VOAD seeks help for Katrina victims
Rental housing and new winter clothes are two of the main items needed by families and individuals who have escaped the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley.Members of the Volunteer Organization Active in Disasters are still asking for community support in helping people readjust and make a new life here in the valley.”Some of these people don’t have any household goods and are trying to re-establish and start all over,” said Leslie Robinson, director of the United Way of Garfield County and a member of VOAD.There are currently about 14 families and individuals who have moved to the valley from the disaster area in Louisiana.”These families essentially came here with the clothes on their backs,” said Jill Ziemann, of Catholic Charities, another VOAD member. “So they need help with furniture, long-term housing, health care and other assistance.”Long-term housing is especially needed in western Garfield County, and it can be subsidized through federal government grants.”The problem is, they can’t find a place to rent,” said Tom Ziemann, also with Catholic Charities. “If someone has a rental property in western Garfield County, the landlords will get a government check.”Winter clothing that is new or nearly new is also needed.”Although there is used clothing available at LIFT-UP and the Defiance store, many hurricane victims require special sizes or new items,” Salvation Army director Micaela Johns said. “The best thing that could happen for these new county residents would be for someone to take them shopping.”Helping someone shop for an item that is the correct size and color would be appreciated, but if that’s not possible, a gift certificate would also be welcomed.”These people weren’t necessarily dirt poor in Louisiana, so it would be nice to get them some new things,” Tom Ziemann said. “Some people might like to send money or a gift certificate, and others might like to go out and meet these folks.”Gas cards in the amounts of $25 or $50 would also be helpful.Volunteers to help coordinate the distribution of aid to the families are also desperately needed. Although a number of nonprofit agencies are working together to assist the hurricane victims, Catholic Charities is acting as the lead in providing assistance to the displaced families.”There are many locals that are working on hurricane assistance, but there doesn’t seem to be one place where volunteers can hook up directly with the hurricane families,” Robinson said. “That’s why VOAD is stepping in to coordinate these efforts.”United Way has offered to be the “acquisition” agency to find donated household goods, furniture, food and professional services like dental care that are needed by hurricane victims. United Way also has a local “Hurricane Katrina” fund that will help support local agencies financially impacted by disaster victims so that services to other disadvantaged families in Garfield County will not be impacted.To make donations, please call Leslie Robinson at United Way at 625-8189; Jill or Tom Zeimann at Catholic Charities at 384-2060; or Mike Alsdorf at American Red Cross, Roaring Fork Chapter at 945-2998.
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