Helping Where Help Is Most Needed
"You all were the cavalry. It was like being surrounded with no hope. Then you guys came in. All of our despair disappeared because of your presence, your actions, your smiles."
— DEPUTY CHIEF, JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
No challenge would test these volunteers more than what Volunteer Ministers encountered at "ground zero" in New Orleans. A Volunteer Minister assessment team, led by two medical doctors, established a clinic there to serve the local police, fire and rescue teams, as well as remaining survivors. New Orleans fire officials asked the Volunteer Ministers to assist with grief counseling of firefighters, who not only battled major warehouse and industrial fires, but also worked day and night searching for the living and recovering the dead.
More than 100 police officers and firefighters lined up for tetanus shots donated — and personally flown in — by actor John Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston.
Officials in suburban Gretna joined with Volunteer Ministers in distributing food and water to over 500 people. Paramedics there also came in contact with the helping hands of Volunteer Ministers. One emergency worker who injured his knee received an assist, after which he remarked, "We need one of you in every emergency room — this works." A Gretna police official told the shelter's lead Volunteer Minister, "the Volunteer Ministers are the best relief team around" — a view shared by Gretna's mayor and a councilwoman, who were among the fellow volunteers handing out supplies to New Orleans evacuees who had, overnight, doubled the size of their city.
Since August 30, more than 900 Volunteer Ministers brought frontline assistance to more than 136,600 victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
Included in the many "thank yous" and letters of appreciation were sentiments summed up by Louisiana State Senator Nick Gautreaux, who wrote, "All of us in Vermilion Parish now know that when a 'Yellow Shirt' arrives here to help us we can count on them to bring control and understanding to a situation.
"And we now all know that no matter what happens SOMETHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT!"
What You Can Do
If you can assist with ongoing Volunteer Minister activities — no matter your religious affiliation — call