Tuesday, September 27, 2005

VOA in Louisiana

This update on Volunteers of America operations in Louisiana: Lake Charles Services This email from Volunteers of America Baton Rouge with programs in Lake Charles. She writes: "We can't get into Lake Charles till Oct 3. We are on the south side though. Not good. Everyone got out and clients and staff are in apts." Keep them in your prayers and we will keep you updated on their struggles. Offices in Alexandria Our Central Louisiana offices were closed yesterday and this morning due to loss of power and damages caused by Rita in their area. Alexandria and Natchitoches were hit very hard by very high winds and heavy, heavy rain. Highland Center Guests--Update Cleveland is now working on the oil rig, he left for Baton Rouge last night, a co-worker picked him up on his way back to work also. Kanatra is doing very well as our new front desk person at the Highland Center as well. Franklin is attending a Federal Express job fair this Friday with a great reference of Robyn's husband. The job pays well and has benefits so we are hopeful that this will work out for him. Sonja and her son, Clarence, are staying with her daughter in West Shreveport in an apartment that her daughter was able to secure. Clarence is attending Byrd High School and already on the football team! Gina, Sal, Ann and Cade left to go to stay with a relative in La Place yesterday. They are going to be going back into their home today. Please pray for them as they go back to what was once their home. This is just to visit their home, they will return here to live and Ann will return to Houston. First Presbyterian has helped in many ways. The Seekers Class has donated funds to assist our guests as well as provided dinner. The diaconate group also recently voted to provide any meals that were not already being provided for each week. They have set up a terrific schedule and are moving forward. We can thank Roberta Cawthorne, President of the Seekers Sunday School class and Julie Blewer, Moderator of the Diaconate, for this help in our time of great need! Evacuees give their time Also, Dress for Success had their sale on Saturday morning from 7 a.m. until Noon. But, on Friday night, the sale was set up and evacuees were allowed to shop for free! Susan has come across lots of evacuees in suiting them for Dress For Success and has been extremely kind and gracious to them and has helped a lot of women get suited for work and casual clothing as well. Setting up for the Sale was a huge task and with the news of Rita heading into our area, many of the volunteers called Susan Friday morning to cancel because they simply could not come. The Evacuees staying at the Highland Center immediately jump in and began volunteering their time to help get the Dress For Success sale set up and get ready for shoppers! The evacuees saved the day! Our Monroe office update: Volunteers of America has provided respite childcare services to approximately 60 children/families residing in the long-term evacuation shelter. Our Twin Cities Early Head Start, in collaboration with the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana and the ULM Child Development Center, plan to provide services for as long as the shelter remains open. In addition to respite care at the shelter, our Head Start has enrolled 6 children into its center-based program. Some children will begin on Thursday and others next Monday. Our office continues to receive call from displaced consumers. The calls are screened and directed to appropriate staff, most likely Kisha Cooper. Kisha has done an outstanding job in assisting mental health consumers. We have personal hygiene and basic housekeeping supplies ready to distribute to the group from Houston that went to Shreveport over the weekend and are now in Monroe. Melodie Pritchard, the Greater New Orleans staff person spearheading the relocation was personally impacted locally by the winds of Rita... a tree fell on the house that she had just rented. We received a call from the local 211 center that a local church group wants to help the Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans folks in any way they can. We haven't spoken with them directly, but are excited about their offer. Highland Center Tour If you would like to see the Highland Center in person, we are offering a tour, Wednesday,October 5th at 11 a.m. All guests are welcome! This is a great way to hear from an evacuee, see where some of the evacuees stayed, see where some of the children are in child care or just to learn more about "The Highland". We sure hope you will come and even bring a friend! Katrina's financial impact We told you last week we have been notified by the State that our programs serving people with mental illness will receive an $87,000 cut immediately. As you can imagine, these cuts will create some hardships. These programs are a real life line for so many in need by providing them each day a way to work and live. We can now tell you we have received word that the amount of this cut has been increased. We know this is really just the beginning so we really thank each of you for your support both now during Katrina and Rita and also your support of our daily programs that serve over 17,000 annually. All of these services (and so much more) are being provided thanks to local contributions. We are still in need of cash contributions. We can take, cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and even gifts of stock. Please forward this email to any friends that you might have that would like to help individuals here at home. Thank you for your support! Our Mailing address: Volunteers of America of North Louisiana 360 Jordan Street Shreveport, Louisiana 71101