Friday, September 22, 2006
At least 850 elderly or disabled residents in or around Chalmette, LA still need their houses gutted, so here's my bid to encourage folks to volunteer. They're pushing for people to come during one of four "work camp" times:
December 27 –– January 8
The work is difficult but doable and necessary. You can go work for a day or two, or you can stay for a full ten days. I recommend working from late one week through early the next, since they don't work on Sundays and it'll give you a break in the middle of your work. Housing is free, and they provide your food for $10 each day.
Hilltop Rescue & Relief is run out the second floor of an elementary school whose first floor was ruined by the flooding and whose students no longer need the classroom space in this decimated town. They have months and months of experience leading groups, and they run their program efficiently: they help you do what you can in the limited time you have to volunteer.
The pile of trash pictured above is what we pulled out of the yellow house behind it in a day and a half of work.
Below is a photo of a room that I worked on for most of a day, taken after I spent two hours throwing out wheelbarrow- and arm-loads of crumbled dry wall which had fallen from the ceiling, along with mattresses, closet doors, and countless clumps of nondescript matter which used to be the contents of an elderly couple's master bedroom. When I first arrived, I had to climb over stuff to get into the room.
The finished house is gratifying, and it's an enormous burden off the shoulders of the homeowner:
This is a rare opportunity to do work that solves an actual problem for people who can't do for themselves, working for an organization that won't waste your time and efforts. For details, visit the Hilltop website. If you know people who are capable of this kind of work, please consider referring them either to this post or to the Hilltop web site.