Home Of Heroes
Katrina Relocation Program
The multitude of Americans who have suffered from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina leaves the individual feeling helpless. Last week I was reminded of Mother Theresa's perspective on such matters when she said: "If you can't feed 100 then feed just one." She also noted: "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."
Four days after Katrina hit the Gulf region, I floated the idea before local Pueblo leaders to do just that--help JUST ONE. Pam's favorite quote states, "You may be one person in the world, but to one person, you may BE THE WORLD." Thus was born the idea that the city of Pueblo, just one of the thousands of communities in our nation, would concentrate on helping ONE family. The idea was to rent a vacant house for six months, completely furnish it to include groceries, bedding, toiletries, phone service, cable TV, and even a computer with internet access. On Friday (September 2) The Pueblo Chieftain announced the project (see News story links below).
Within 48 hours an incredible team began working together to find homes--not simply shelter--for Katrina survivors. Todd Clevenger took it upon himself to drive to Louisiana in search of families needing help, while I worked to team him with Retired Special Forces Captain Robert Noe and his wife Kathy who were working in their hometown of Alexandria. Joining the team was student pilot Cullen Canazares and his wife Christina who began arranging flights from shelters in Louisiana and Texas to homes around the Country.
Working with Suzanne Pressley in Houston, and teaming with Cullen, arrangements were made to fly one family into Pueblo to that first home on Tuesday, the same day the Chieftain reported on progress to prepare that first home.
Meanwhile, when Todd connected with the Noes in Louisiana, the project ballooned and a convoy departed over the weekend for Colorado. Todd promptly notified us that he was bringing eleven families. A series of quick phone calls brought online the needed housing.
The family from Houston arrived in Pueblo early on Tuesday evening where they were greeted by Pueblo officials, medical personnel, and then settled into their new home. Even as they were walking through the door of their fully furnished home, Todd was making a brief stop in neighboring La Junta where two families, each a family of six, were settled into fully-furnished, fully-stocked homes. An hour later Todd was in Pueblo, where the two of us who had worked together through countless hours of long distance phone calls over a four-day period, finally met face to face. Four families were greeted, given immediate medical evaluations, and then placed in rent-free/utilities-free homes (also fully-furnished and stocked with food). The remaining families then continued on to Denver where they were settled into homes arranged by Todd's wife Karmen, another of the invaluable members of our team of strangers with but one thing in common, a desire to help others.
The Pueblo homes, donated by local landlords including my good friend and fellow Vietnam Veteran Delbert Schmelling (see his story in Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul) and Christine Swank (who donated three vacant units of a four-plex), had been fully prepared by scores of local teens under the unbelievable leadership of a 19-year old girl, Andee Ames.
Below are links to some incredible stories of this city-wide effort, accomplished by great teamwork by a group of strangers. Below the news links are updates to continuing programs. (On Friday (September 9, additional convoys departed to pick up our next group of adopted families.
MOST RECENT NEWS CLIP:
|Sept 2 Pueblo Chieftain||Locals offer home to flood refugees|
|Sept 6 Pueblo Chieftain||Home of Heroes effort lends hand take action|
|Sept 7 Pueblo Chieftain||Hurricane survivors find new home in Pueblo|
|Sept 7 Rocky Mountain News||Ready For Crowd (See Section on Todd Clevenger)|
|Sept 10 Pueblo Chieftain||Congressman meets evacuees
|Sept 10 Grand Junction Sentinel||Colorado hurricane volunteers say red tape is blocking their good intentions|
|Sept 12 Pueblo Chieftain||Men of action - ‘Just do it’ should be slogan of group|
|Sept 13 Pueblo Chieftain||Latest evacuees arrive in Pueblo|
Sept 13 Pueblo Chieftain
|State Fairgrounds stocking up for evacuees|
|Sept 14 The Denver Post||Evacuees Settle In Across the State|
BROADCAST REPORTS To Move your Soul:
If Videos Don't Open Automatically - Scroll through
List to see Each Story
College Opportunities for Katrina Survivors in Pueblo
TEAM WEB SITES (For More Details and Updates)
|Contact Doug or Pam Sterner||Phone: (719) 564-1755||Email: Doug@HomeOfHeroes.com|
BREAKING NEWS: (Updates to follow shortly)
- In Fort Smith, Arkansas we have located the missing 17-year old son of one of our recently placed families, and he will be rejoining his family in Pueblo. In El Paso, Texas, we have located the missing 5-year old son of another recently placed family, and he will be traveling to Pueblo to settle into his new home.
- On Friday (Sept 9) Team Leader Andee Ames flew to Houston to do groundwork for the team. Joining her at the Astro Dome to coordinate the program is Rev. Keith Colvin of the NAACP.
- Meanwhile, Todd has departed for Alexandria, LA where he will load his caravan and a 76-passenger bus on Sunday to bring families to Colorado early next week.
- Our great team has been joined by Norm Vaux of Canon City, Colorado, a volunteer who already has one bus in Houston to work with Andee and Rev. Colvin, and another on the way to Alexandria to meet Todd.
- Nearby Fowler, Colorado, has established group-housing for an additional 30 Katrina Survivors, who will be returning on the Convoy.
- This weekend Cullen will arrange a flight into Pueblo for a family of six from a shelter in Baton Rouge that will be relocated to their own home in Canon City, rent and utilities free for six months, with the adoptive support of a local church.
- We will be placing a family in Pueblo West in a home donated by a local church that comes complete with furnishings, food, family support, and a vehicle with insurance paid for one year.
- In Pueblo we are establishing a Katrina Mart, a combination super-store and distribution center for incoming donations of food, clothing, appliances, kitchen wares, toiletries, etc. Katrina Survivors can shop, just as they would in any regular store. The only thing missing is a check-out line and cash register. (All clothing and bedding is sorted and laundered by volunteer inmates from the county jail.)
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