Help Less

Update: I am planning on calling the local shelter closest to my house and heading over there today, tomorrow or the soonest they need me. I plan on bringing along a list of people who are willing to offer up their houses for temporary residence. If you know of anyone, please email me at SJ (at) shenuts (there’s a dot here) com

After changing a flat tire in the nice Houston heat, I thought to myself “damn, I’m hot.” Not hot in that way, but hot as in “Woah. Get me some AC.” Then I reminded myself of other people who um, have been sitting outside in the heat for awhile now.

I wanted to do something, I told my Mom. Yeah, I could give money, but I want to help someone. I know this area, I could help people! Or! I could make sandwiches and hand them out to the people that need them!

Sandwiches! I did that for the homeless before and even though many of them were drunk, I hoped it helped a bit.

I forget what she said, but I don’t think she seemed down with the idea of me driving around Houston with a car full of sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly! And? Candy! Everyone wants candy! Kids like candy!

I guess it is probably not the best idea to drive around and say “Hey! You hungry?”

So The Hubs and I go out for a walk tonight when a black SUV pulls up beside us. Hoping it wasn’t one of Bushies’ people, mad that I called him a “Turd Sandwich” once, I approach. It is a family. Husband and wife with two kids.

They’re from New Orleans. His company also has a base in Houston, so he still has a job. They need a home and somehow ended up in White People Land. They ask about apartments and rental homes and I tell them that they can get nice places for the price they want. Schools? Great! Area? Really nice and clean.

(I left out the part that nobody shoots at you here. I figured they didn’t want to hear that.)

Then I drew them some directions and gave them my phone number in case they needed help around here. Seeing as I know WPL pretty well, I’d make a good tour guide.

We wave goodbye, wishing them good luck. Then? The Husband takes a left instead of going straight. My husband then takes the time to tell me that it sounded like I told the guy to go left even though I said “Go allllllll the way down to the end and THEN turn left.”

I kept worrying about them. Here they were, looking for a place and I confuse them with my directions. What if they leave WPL because they think it is too confusing and miss out on a nice place with nice schools for the kiddos?

I hope that they can find something and, if they need help, will contact me again. I told them I could hook them up with a realtor to find a house.

I kept mentally beating myself up over it on our golf course walk. Couldn’t believe my lack of clarity, even when we stopped to move some Renegade Golfer’s golf clubs out of the way of the sewer water sprinklers. Even when he ran back out of his house and yelled thank you at us, I just kept thinking about the people driving down all the identical tree-lined streets saying “Nursery Road? Is THAT Nursery Road?”

Oh well. You can’t do everything perfect. Hopefully these people know that there are those of us in Houston that care and will do the best to help them temporarily relocate to our city.

Up Next: Fun with Barney the Dinosaur.

Edited to add: My friend’s (Robotnik, a blogger) wife is auctioning off an original painting with proceeds going to the relief. You can bid on it here.

Second update: Those who live in Houston (and probably many other places with shelters) can buy goods to donate. I went out and bought diapers and tampons because, man, tampons are important. For those who don’t live around here, here is a link to some of the shelters in Houston. Some of these places provide addresses so I bet you could send goods if you wanted to.

36 Responses to “Help Less”

  1. Chloe
    September 1st, 2005 23:31

    I think the sandwich idea is a good one. You can’t help everyone, but if you live where you do, and you have the opportunity to help, it’s so great. I wish I could do something… And I’m sure that guy found his way around, and nice for him he ran into such a cool chick!

  2. sleepingmommy
    September 2nd, 2005 00:03

    I’m glad you were able to help that family in some small way.

    I sit here glued to the tv or to the news websites and other blogs reporting the tragedy and I’m overwhelmed wanting to do something. And overwhelmed with disgust at the darker sides of human nature.

  3. alexis
    September 2nd, 2005 01:09

    i wish i could help out like that.
    about all i can do is donate… and not much at that.

  4. Jessica
    September 2nd, 2005 01:12

    What alexis said. Being that I’m in California, the most I can do is donate money or supplies, which I already did.

    I feel for those people though. God, I can’t stop thinking about how they are suffering through no fault of their own. :-(

  5. Robotnik
    September 2nd, 2005 05:51

    hey SJ, even though we’re broke, we gave about $200 to the effort. and then the wife had a brilliant idea: she put up one of her original art paintings on Ebay and the highest bidder gets the art, while the money (100%) gets donated via Missionfish to the relief efforts. it’s the only thing we could do. in any case, if you know someone who has the funds to spare for the effort and who loves original good art, send them out my way…they can link to the auction from my blog. i’ll keep that entry up over the weekend.

    we’re helpless here…my wife even suggested we open up our home to families…but we’re so far out. i think they said they’d only consider people within a 300 mile radius.

    it’s terrible.

  6. irene
    September 2nd, 2005 06:32

    I want to make sandwiches too and drive around and hand out diapers, toilet paper, towels, soap and shampoo and clothes to all of them. I want to send pastries, cheese, my shoes and my entire house to the people in New Orleans. but I live in Paris. I can ONLY donate. this is ALL I can do. and it’s killing me.

  7. Debbie
    September 2nd, 2005 06:45

    Hey SJ, next week I am going to sign up to work a shift at the shelter on 2920 (You know Jabo’s place?) They are desperate for hands. They need people to help with meals and stuff. I have an email I can forward that gives more info if you are interested.

    I can’t even imagine what its like at the Astrodome. And its just getting worse.

  8. solistella
    September 2nd, 2005 07:19

    I feel helpless myself. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and have lived through many near misses - but never, never something of this magnitude.

    I hope these links will encourage everyone to do what they can.

    Buy or sell an eBay item through Giving Works

    Offer up housing space for survivors through Katrina Housing

    Make a donation to the Red Cross

    Make a donation to FEMA

  9. clickmom
    September 2nd, 2005 07:39

    A welcoming and friendly attitude, even one with confused directions, is most important at this time.

  10. Priscilla
    September 2nd, 2005 08:04

    I, like everyone feel so helpless. I want to do more than donate money but from PA there isn’t much I can do. I cry every time I watch the news, see pictures or hear of awful things.
    My husband said he would be willing to go down there to help with the cleanup efforts as PA is looking for volunteers. We just can’t afford for him to be gone for a few weeks and miss out on his wages. It just feels so horrible to not be able to help more than just donating money.

  11. cas
    September 2nd, 2005 08:39

    FYI: We are trying to get organized at work to help all our displaced employees who are temporarily landing in the whitelands (our corporate office is right there, next to the superdome, or was). They will need not only places to stay (we’ve already got some signing leases etc.) but also will need help with basic household items etc. If you know anyone that has spare items (bedding, kitchen items, etc.) then let me know, and I’ll let our relief group know.

    They were probably just glad to see a friendly face and just talk to someone. I can’t imagine coping with that kind of loss…not only property, but lives.

  12. Curly Girl
    September 2nd, 2005 09:24

    dud! you are a social worker in the making :) every little bit helps. i wish i lived there so we could go to the astrodome together and hand out sandwiches (and clean underwear).

  13. Heatheranne
    September 2nd, 2005 09:50

    I don’t know how many times I’ve told my husband that I want to drive down there and help in any way I could. Even if it’s just driving a family somewhere to stay. He keeps telling me that I can’t, then I cry. It breaks my heart that I can’t help like I want to. It breaks my heart that all these people need help in the worst way and they aren’t getting it.

  14. Texas T-bone
    September 2nd, 2005 10:04

    Too bad nobody thought to run buses there BEFORE the hurricane hit. We knew for days that there was a really really good chance it would hit the coast, and then act all stunned when areas at or below sea level are under water. For the relief effort, I am building the world’s largest pb&j sandwich in my back yard. All are welcome.

  15. Robotnik
    September 2nd, 2005 10:40

    to all of you (us) who are feeling guilty even after we give money: it’s always the needy who help out the needy. be proud and know that you’re helping. my family and I, like many of you writing here, are very tightly squeezed–but overall we gave $200, plus my wife’s painting which is now bid at $170. I know it’s not much, but it’s something. and I know all of us who have given cannot really afford to give–but we did anyway. I, like many, still feel guilty. But I’m trying to talk to myself and realize that it’s all we can do. If we were in a position to do more, we would. As many of you, probably would also. There is strength in numbers.

  16. Kristy
    September 2nd, 2005 12:17

    It’s so hard to be so close (we’re in Fort Worth) and feel so helpless. We don’t have much extra money, but I donated what I could. We’re gonna buy as many supplies as we can and take them to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Center in Dallas. When you feel like you’re not doing much, just realize that if EVERYONE would just do a little something, the result would be amazing.

  17. Adrienne
    September 2nd, 2005 13:35

    Don’t feel too guilty. I’ve been calling the Houston red cross volunteer line for two days and it’s been busy every time. And the food bank volunteer list is full until next week. So even if you tried to do more, you probably couldn’t.

  18. crystal
    September 2nd, 2005 17:01

    after watching the news for days straight now, all i really want to do is jump in my car to drive down there and maybe take a family or two back with me. put them up in my house. take care of them somehow. i just want to do something, and donating money, while well and good, doesn’t seem like enough and i know it’s not. i wish i had the funds to buy crates of baby formula and diapers and medicine and do what our government doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to do.

  19. Dee
    September 2nd, 2005 17:14

    For those who want to help: Check the websites or call up a few of your local churches. (no matter your beliefs) Many churches are being used as shelters, and have created an interstate highway of coordinated efforts with churches in LA and MS. Some churches have supply lists posted online of things they need in order to assist incoming survivors. (clothes, food, toiletries, etc.) Call your local schools. We’re beginning to receive an influx of students now. They barely have clothes on their backs. My students are pooling all of their lunch change everyday in order to buy school supplies for some of our newest students. Every little bit helps.
    Oh, a personal choice: please consider donating supplies or money to the ASPCA or Humane Society. Many pets are also now lost and homeless.

  20. Corrie
    September 2nd, 2005 20:46

    I am donating, but I still feel so guilty. I really can’t even put into words how I feel because I am not too sure, but SJ, anyone who freaking donates Tampons-that’s a non-stop ticket to goodness.

  21. Crazy MomCat
    September 2nd, 2005 22:12

    Hey, SJ! My church here in Houston is actually making sandwiches this weekend–so you’re not the only one whose thought of that! Actually, they’re making full sack lunches for some people displaced at a nearby hotel with no food or money. Call St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church if you’d like to help or check out their website for a list of things they are also collecting:

  22. Aimee
    September 2nd, 2005 22:15

    You crack me up! I’m so glad I found your blog. A two year old and an eight week old are about enough to drive me into the asylum. I find your entries refreshing. Anyway-I donated a ton of stuff today to the Red Cross. Pillows, towels, blankets, canned items, rice, etc. It felt so good to empty my closets and pantries to help these poor people. Can you believe the news and the dome? So sad…

    Sorry about the flat… hope you weren’t on 45 or some suck ass Houston freeway when it happend… that would reak!

  23. Surfie
    September 3rd, 2005 07:45

    For those far away, you could always call up a hotel here in Houston and pay for a night for a family. I am about 45 miles from Houston proper, and there are about 8 families staying in our 1 little hotel here in this tiny town. We paid for 1 night for some and bought nonperishable foods for others.

  24. Tom Darby
    September 3rd, 2005 17:03

    Hey I won’t give a plug nickel to the Red Cross after 9/11. Our radio stations raised and raised money for relief, turned it over to the local chapter and then National decided that only 10% would go to 9/11 victims. Once bitten, twice shy. I’d much rather give to someone else who’ll make sandwiches and such and give directly.

  25. Lisa
    September 3rd, 2005 19:35

    Your awesome. Yes, anyone who can needs to offer thier homes to these people. This is a time when we just have to go on good faith. If everyone would open there homes we wouldnt have people dying at the astrodome. It just infuriates me that this kind of mayhem is happening in our country.

  26. Bob
    September 3rd, 2005 20:21

    I’m waiting for approval from work for a 90 day leave of absence. I’ve been approached as part of a solicitation for government consultants to go down and help rebuild service delivery systems. Keep praying for these people. Pray hard. Pray Fast.

  27. MollieBee
    September 3rd, 2005 21:07

    there are still people trapped and dying.


  28. nine
    September 3rd, 2005 21:36

    being in California, there is not much i can do to help directly. and being poor there is not much i can do to help monitarily either :( still, i plan to give what i can.

    like Dee, i’d also like to ask people to consider donating to animal welfare charities too. all those beloved pets, homeless and lost with no way to know what on earth happened to the families that loved and cared for them… pets love us unconditionally and they need some help now too.

  29. honey bunny
    September 3rd, 2005 22:39

    you’re the best, SJ. seriously. i wish i could physically help people, but i’m here in boston with no car :(

    the tampons are very important, i can’t help but think of how many women and girls have developed infections from sitting in polluted water for days on end. not only are infections bad, but they can potentially render them infertle if they go untreated. and this makes me so mad and so sad at the same time.

    i hope those people get help NOW. i’m so sick of seeing them suffer. it’s heartbreaking.

  30. JustLinda
    September 4th, 2005 06:57

    I know someone already posted the link for katrinahousing.org but there is also hurricanehousing.org. I’ve offered up my home on both, at least my one extra bedroom. Maybe I should have put my blog link in the posting. I could see it now… um, yeah, we read all about you on the justlinda blogspot site and, um, well, we’re going to see if we get a better offer.

    All kidding aside, I hope I can be of help to someone. It would make me feel that I’m doing something besides throwing money at it.

  31. EdnaB
    September 4th, 2005 08:00

    Good on you for doing what you can

  32. Robotnik
    September 4th, 2005 18:28

    hey, we’ve opened up our house for people.
    we don’t think anyone can get to NC, though.
    but we tried.

  33. girlE
    September 4th, 2005 21:03

    Hey SJ - I helped pass out clothes & toiletries at our local shelter tonight. We kept running out of bras (especially for the big ladies) & shower shoes. I’m sure you could go to WalMart or the Dollar Store & grab some things to bring to a shelter.

  34. Priscilla
    September 6th, 2005 09:54

    just checked Robotnik’s wife’s painting on Ebay and it is up to $788!!!! Great going, great idea to he and his wife.

  35. Robotnik
    September 6th, 2005 10:55

    Thanks SJ for the visibility. We’ve been able to raise almost $800 for my wife’s painting–with ALL proceeds going to the recovery effort. We’ve also kicked in $200 of our own. And we’ve opened up our house for a family to stay w/us indefinitely.


  36. Justin'sMommy
    September 6th, 2005 14:53

    Thanks for posting the donations/shelters link. Moody Methodist should be getting a big box of baby supplies from me in a few days. I looked all over for places taking donation items, not just money. I feel so bad for those poor people!

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