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The Pueblo Chieftain Online

September 2, 2005


Locals offer home to flood refugees


Residents of a city that knows what it's like to have homes and lives destroyed by water are offering to take in family members who also have seen their lives shattered by a natural disaster.

A group of Puebloans are arranging to provide a home for a family from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

Doug Sterner, who also heads Pueblo's Home of Heroes efforts touting the city's four Medal of Honor recipients, said that once the family is found, it will be offered a North Side home rent-free for six months.

He said that a vacant, furnished home already has been found and the landlord is willing to waive a security deposit and charge $600 a month for rent.

Sterner said that the first three months’ rent have been pledged, with $600 each from the Family Worship Center and the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department, and donations from his co-workers at Pueblo Community College and City Councilman Jeff Chostner. He said he's working on getting enough funds for the second three months as well as enough money to cover utilities.  "If they need transportation, I will drive to Houston or New Orleans to get them," Sterner said.

Whether the family remains in Pueblo or returns is up to them, he said. Sterner added, "If they want to go back to New Orleans, that's fine, but I came to Pueblo temporarily and fell in love with this city."

He said that media people on the scene and workers for Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., are seeking a family and he expects to have one located by this evening.

Sterner explained that the family would have to be one with no home or jobs left to go back to, not even a home to rebuild. He said the people working on the project would also help them find employment "and most importantly, get their children back in school."

Sterner said that the people involved decided to focus on one family because it was a way of accomplishing something tangible.

"Mother Teresa once said, ‘If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.’

"Many people are standing by in shock just watching the tragedy," he said. "With a situation like we're seeing down there it’s so easy to get blown away because it seems hopeless.

"Our concept is we can't do everything for everybody. We're just one city out of thousands, but to one family we're going to make all the difference in the world," he said.

Sterner said that other communities could follow Pueblo's example.

"Maybe, just maybe another city will look at Pueblo and say maybe they can't help everybody, but they can help one. La Junta already is looking at this."

Sterner said that Pueblo's own history plays a part in its desire to help, referring to the 1921 flood. "We've been through the floods and pulled out. We know how to get a second start."

Publish Date Thursday, September 2, 2005
©1996-2005 The pueblo Chieftain Online



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