Saturday, March 31, 2007

Paper, Magazines, Radio, and now TV

Since being at Lagniappe I have made the paper for attending the first Saints game back in the dome, intervied with a Croation documentary crew about volunteers here in America, was photographed and put in a Mississippi magazine for being at the filming of Jimmy Buffett's music video filmed here in the Bay, intervied on live radio at a local radio station, and now finally joined the ranks of Jean and Kenley by making the local news. Mississippi has just approved the funding for a memorial or thank you to be built at the local welcome center to commemorate all the hard work the volunteers here have put in to help restore the coast. The memorial or whatever you would call it is going to be a 30 ft high sculpture to represent the height of the storm surge and be set in a fountain in the shape of Katrina. Last night I also attended the first fundraising banquet, not sure how I was selected but ended up going, to kick off the push to raise the money. I ended up sitting at the head table with Mo Gatto, another volunteer coordinatoor and Gene Taylor, the Congressman from the gulf coast. It was the first time I have ever met a congressmen. Anyway, I have finally covered all forms of media I guess now I shoot for CNN. But, besides just to brag the point of this blog is that the volunteers efforts is truly evident and appreciated down here on the coast. I do not pay attention to politics all that closely but I heard about this memorial Thursday and by Friday night at the banquet they announced that the state had already approved the project and their part of the funding. I would think that a project with a price tag of this size would not be to popular when there is so much need in the area. Everyone I talk to from those living in FEMA trailers to the speech that the congressman gives all i hear is support. This is the same phenomenon that many of our volunteers experience when they come down here. Every week teams are fed by the residents we work with, crawfish, pizza, gumbo, catfish, brisquet, po-boys, all out of gratitude for the work they have done. It is not that they can afford to feed 20 volunteers its that they can't afford not to. They have to express their gratitude. Volunteers are needed more than ever and this monument shows the gratitude and the effect that volunteers have had on the coast. So if you have come to Lagniappe and filled out the EOC work form as you were suppose to you your name should appear on this fountain. If you came down and didn't fill out this form as is also often the case, come back so you can turn in a form. And finally if you have not come down we are still working hard, tired as is evident by us not blogging, and in need of help. Keep the coast in mind as everyone here cannot forget all the help from all over the nation that was needed to help this place recover.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

News reports

Health crisis

'People here are still struggling'



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Laura Beil (foreground) takes notes while listening to Dr. PerSharon Dixon talk about the medical effects of Hurricane Katrina on Coast families at Pass Road Elementary school.

GULFPORT - South Mississippi - especially its children - is in the midst of the largest health crisis in recent American memory, according to experts who visited with reporters here Thursday.

"To me, it's the most significant domestic crisis that we've seen in a very long time," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, founder of the Children's Health Fund and a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He has been studying mental health in Katrina-devastated areas.

By now, because the story no longer dominates the nation's front pages or network news, many Americans believe the Coast is all cleaned up. Homes are rebuilt. Schools are reopened and hospitals, churches, barbershops and Wal-Mart are all back to normal.

But those Americans don't take showers in FEMA trailers. Their children don't figure algebra equations in portable classrooms. They don't attend church in tents and they don't drive along miles of abandoned landscape on their morning commutes.

The question of whether South Mississippi has been forgotten will have devastating effects on the mental health of local families, according to the experts who spoke to a group of health reporters from across the country visiting the Coast with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Through tours of the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi, the reporters have heard over and over again the varying impacts of what one expert described as the "devastating second phase" of hurricane recovery.

Children are in trouble physically and mentally, especially those among displaced families. About 80,000 children are in families still displaced from Katrina, and of those, experts say about a third are already showing behavioral, social or academic problems.

"We lock them in these trailer parks where access to services is hampered by the conditions they find themselves in," Redlener said. "The big treatment is to get these families back into their normal environments."

The federal government recently gave a four-year extension to trailer contractors, which Redlener said is a sign this problem "is not going anywhere anytime soon."

He said recovery - emotional, economic and physical - has sunk in the morass of bureaucracy and political posturing at every level of government.

"It's one thing for adults, but here we have children developing physically, mentally and emotionally under these conditions," he said.

Dr. Persharon Dixon, who runs the Mississippi Gulf Coast Children's Health Care Program, which sends a free medical bus around to local schools, said the parents of four students have been victims of suicide in the past few weeks and one child attempted it. Those are just the cases she knows about.

"The people here are still struggling with housing issues and insurance issues," Dixon said. "They are still under a lot of stress."

The bus, which sees 20 to 40 children a day, will soon be equipped with a video system so other psychologists can monitor sessions with Coast children and offer a diagnoses from their offices around the nation. It's an effort to help ease a physician shortage and handle a boom in uninsured children.

Redlener said the problems in Mississippi were actually more obvious than in Louisiana. He said the recovery has "absolutely failed," many children are depressed and missing school, and families should have been out of trailers "a long time ago."

"The actual interventions that these kids need are straightforward and (involve) a sense of hopefulness." Redlener said. "If we don't do anything differently, we're heading down a path that we're really going to regret. All of us are going to regret it."

Gene Taylor Makes the LPC Blog

Jean wanted me to post this. It's an edited clip of Gene Taylor, who talks strongly about getting matching funds from a community that has nothing to match with. Enjoy. Link to Video

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rainbows, rainbows everywhere

I was having a really bad day. It was cloudy, muggy, and my routine was so monotonous. Gripe, complain-those were on my agenda for the day. I finally decided to go for a walk, and took Kate in the stroller. Of course, to make a bad day worse, during our walk it started to rain. Not really heavy, but a strong sprinkle. I pulled her cover over her and marched home. As we walked down our street, i looked up....and saw a rainbow. I had to laugh-God really was there and He really was listening to my complaints. I felt so embarassed. What did I have to complain about, really? Couldn't it be much worse? I remembered Noah when I saw the rainbow. Then I laughed. Thanks, God.
I parked the stroller on the sidewalk so that I could run in to get the camera. Andy is amazed at rainbows but he doesn't seem to get as excited about them as I do. He was on the phone, so he couldn't take too much time to come appreciate what was happening. (So often, that is how we are-too wrapped up in things to notice what God has planned. I'm not picking on Andy, I'm just using him for a good lesson I learned.) I grabbed the camera, came back outside, to find Kate standing up in the stroller.
Apparently she didn't notice what wonderful, beautiful things were happening. She was more like me-caught up in herself and what she could accomplish. But then, as I looked up, I tried to focus the camera just right so that I could get a good picture. I even did a manual focus. Then I noticed that there were 2 rainbows! I darkened the shadows in the picture so that you can notice it, but that's all the retouching that I did. I was so amazed. As it rained, and the sun was shining, there were 2 beautiful rainbows. It was so great to realize that even when God brings us rain, He's working on something even more beautiful for us-not just the sunshine but the other things that He designs. God is bringing me rain, but how great that He brings me through that to see what all He has in store for me. And just when I think He's only got 1 rainbow up His sleeve, He has so much more. I'm so glad that He's not limited to my plans!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

VT was here

Taking a break after some roofing work.
Mackenzie learning about the mudbug!
The roof is looking pretty good!
Ok I admit, I stole these pictures from Sam Hardin, but since none of us at LPC have done a very good job of blogging, I figured I might as well share what Sam and the gang did while they were here. I wasn't on the work site, but from the pictures I saw, they did an incredible job on a roof, some of you parents outta be proud, your kids could run a roofing company.As many of you know, I've been working back in the private sector, and Richard and Barb have been doing the job that just over a year ago brought me to live in the Bay. I'm back in the "real" world, a business owner in the Bay. It's great to be able to see signs of Lagniappe Church all over the area. Yesterday Cammie and I were at Sonic and spotted 30 or more pink wristbands. College students from TCU and Georgetown, KY were there, having ice cream or something after a long day. Jordan has been managing teams like a mad man, keeping over 200 people working on projects all over this area. Our youth group from our former home town of Louisville, MS was here for two days, doing what they do best, tearing stuff up, and some of the non-glamorous jobs, like working around the property, making sure it was clean and serving meals. Good job guys. I do have one side note. I was talking to our realtor today and she was talking about the rebuilding effort. She said "I used to think it would take 3-5 years to rebuild, but now I'm thinking it's more like 5-10 years..." If you haven't had a chance to come down, don't worry -- there will be time when you can! Come see us, keep praying for us. Send Jordan some help! ;) Also, Pray for Cammie, she has a really bad sore throat!
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

thoughts from the travel agent

i have a really fun job at Lagniappe. As the scheduling/reservations director, I get to field phone calls and emails from all around the world. It's amazing how God is moving people to volunteer with us here in the Bay. It's neat to work with the team leaders and help them make plans for their team, explain our vision, and get their trip started. Although it is disappointing to me when I have to lay down the law (like telling groups we can't facilitate charter buses, telling groups that they can't check in at 2 am, turning away individuals or unskilled workers) I am growing stronger from being able to do so. The disconnect I feel is not being on the team side of things-not being out in the community rebuilding homes, not being able to work with the teams during the week. Since I work primarily from home, at times it feels like I am running a call center. It's fun to meet the team leaders when they arrive (if I can remember who is coming....sometimes all the groups run together)! Sometimes I feel like I blow in and out of Lagniappe like the wind, since I don't work there 40 hours a week. I'm thankful that I can work from home and be a stay at home mommy. Sometimes team leaders are so gracious-if my daughter is having a fit, and it's obvious to the caller, they will mercifully say, "Would you like for me to call you back?" Thanks for that. I feel very special when a staff member tells me, "So and so was here this week and they were asking to meet you." Have I reached celebrity status yet? Just kidding. So if you are in town, hopefully I'll get to meet you. And if I miss you, I'll catch you the next time. Because I know you will want to come back. one of the greatest lessons i have learned during my time in the Bay is that my righteousness is not in myself or anything I do. if I make a mistake, it's okay. i really do not like making mistakes, but i've learned that i am still very much loved when i make them. and boy do i make them daily. perhaps this was best visualized during homecoming week when we were working on our facility. being a new mom (first time mom I might add), i thought i knew everything we needed for the nursery. i had some great ideas, even down to the garbage can we needed to use. but there were other people with ideas-moms with several children and even grandchildren. but what did they know? i'm the hip, new mom. i know everything. they now make these special garbage cans for dirty diapers, named Diaper Genie. When you have a dirty one, you can insert it in the can, twist, and POOF! no smell, no fuss. you only have to empty it once per week. we got one when kate was born, used it, and really liked its convenience. i suggested we get one at LPC. idea vetoed. my feelings were crushed. my character was attacked, i felt, since my idea wasn't liked. my heart was stirring and i wanted to be heard! i wanted everyone to know i was right! it took a few days, but God taught me so much. my righteousness, my self worth, my likability was all tied to the trash can. the trash can was returned to wal mart, and i'm glad to say that it's gone. the nursery is beautiful, probably the cutest one i've ever seen, and it's all no thanks to me. if i had my way, it would be nothing like it is now, but God opened my heart to others and let me know that it's okay that i'm not okay. that i can be wrong and that i am wrong. and now we have a regular old trash can and it's just right. and i can still laugh about my diaper genie righteousness. don't worry- I didn't even mention during that week that i had stopped using the diaper genie given to my family as a gift-because even when you used it you could still smell dirty diapers.....

Monday, March 05, 2007

They'll come to Lagniappe...

I had a profound realization on Saturday. There was a benevolence walk-in case that we were dealing with and the individual had gone from one relief agency to another. He had been sent from one church to another. He finally was sent on from the Salvation Army and ended up at Lagniappe. He just needed some help getting 'over the hump'- a job was on the horizon. Wires had been crossed. He was short on cash and needed help. There were tears that welled up continually in his eyes. We met and decided to help him over the hump. He wept. He said that we were the 'only ones' who would help him. It was a great moment. I was passionately expressing my frustration to Helen Buckley. "Helen, what is someone supposed to do- they go from one church to another- each place passing the buck....each one too busy....everyone one taking the time to HEAR the story....if everyone rejects them and everyone tells them that they can't help then what are SUPPOSED TO DO????" Helen calmly replied, "Then they'll come to Lagniappe." I can remember precisely where I was standing. It felt like the floor was giving way- I began to weep. She was so right- they WILL come to Lagniappe, that is why we are here. I feel like I want to run from this place and never leave at the very same time. Pray for us and for our friend from Saturday. He started his job today.