Now that Mrs. G's Road Home money has come in, I am steering very clear - (as part of the messiness that manifested in my helping her this summer had to do with her relationship with her family who did not help her but also did not want me to help her, you know how dysfunctional family dynamics play out) - well, I won't go near her or the house until she spends all, if not most of her Road Home money; as her family has clearly shown that they do not understand my motives, nor my work; and as many people in New Orleans have been ripped off - including Mrs. G - I think her family (and even Mrs. G ) can only perceive me through a perceptual filter that does not have a conceptual knowing of someone helping without an ulterior motive. Someone helping from love. I'm not worried, she is a strong old bird, she has an ability, even with the onset Alzheimer's, to remember with uncanny clarity who she believes has hurt her - so I don't think she will be giving out any loans with her Road Home money - at least I hope she won't. This woman has been through so much with people stealing from her, making false promises, and dealing with those closest to her abandoning her. I hope this will be the end of her tribulations. She has suffered so much. She was awarded half of what her house was previously estimated at (I helped her with the last parts of her Road Home process and paperwork which led to her closing and I saw what a shockingly low assessment it was) - this does not count a lifetime of belongings and the contents of her double shotgun, which she used to rent out the other half to an elderly woman who has passed on since Katrina/levee failures. Yet it is enough to get her back in, finish both sides of the house, furnish both sides with appliances, and furnish her side with the rest of her furnitures, etc. When the other side is finished she can rent it out again as she survives on SS and SSI benefits.
I hung out with my friend Ulla today for a few hours over at my place. This is Ulla out back of my house in the city, I was learning how to operate my camera. Ulla was 7 months pregnant when the levees broke. She had to abandon her house - which was flooded out to the mid section of her porch. She was alone except for another woman friend of hers. They evacuated out, ended up in Wisconsin, then back down to LA, where she found temp housing, gave birth on October 5 2005. Whilst raising her son on her own, she has had to rebuild her house. This was her first Christmas back in her house and it took much from her to get here. She worked at her job and was very hands on in the rebuilding of her home. She is a woman whom I admire for her strength, her creativity, her kindness, her caring for the well being of others. As a friend she 'gets me' and we crack each other up wiht laughter. Bless sister. Perhaps one day she will share her Katrina/levee failure/flooding/evacuation/rebuilding story with us... Hmmm.... Ulla? Ulla....
I passed by Mr and Mrs. G's ("Lord Help Me to Hang in There" posting) in the Upper 9th the other day. They must have recently gotten their Road Home money also as there was a huge pile of debris on their front curb. The old boards on the one side of the house had been pulled out, the window frames, etc. Perhaps they will be back in their home by the spring. I'll try to get by and talk with them and get the scoop!
I posted an add on New Orleans CraigsList in the volunteer section to see if I might get some help with a pretty big (for me) photo essay project I would like to do to leave on this blog at the close of 2007. I got two replies and if you are gonna only get two replies then the two I got are the best. One is a woman from Boston, Penny who just flew in to New Orleans today. she is going to help me for a few days whilst she is here (this is her 3 visit to the Gulf Coast since Katrina and the levee failures. In the photo essay I hope to show the rebuilding process and how it varies demographically (its really uneven). The other person who replied to my Criagslist posting is originally from Ethiopia who lives in CA and goes to university there. He is in TX visiting his brother and wants to come to New Orleans for a few days to see what is going on here and is willing to come with me when I shoot on Wednesday and Thursday (our upcoming 'clear skies' days)and help me. They are both affiliated with colleges - so the quality of help I am getting is above par!
I wrote a letter to my spiritual community in MA and to some of my friends asking if they wanted to would they consider making any kind of financial gift so that I could purchase HOTHANDS for the homeless. I received a little over $300 which will bring about (2) cases of 240 each (480 pairs) of HotHands and 50 mylar blankets for the freezing weather and the cold raw days to come. I know where to find many who live on the streets and I can also find people when they go to do their wash and shower, or at the shelters when they go for a meal. I was sent one case of 40 HotHands from a woman I never met, Janet, who is a friend of my spiritual community and 40 people stayed warmer that night on the streets. There are 2 cases that I had ordered 2-3 weeks ago (a personal gift for me to spend how I wanted - I took out $60 from the $200 and tithed it out for the blessing) from Matthew and Corinne, these 2 cases are in limbo somewhere in the postal system. Even my beloved spiritual teacher Julie, was trying to get some HotHands to me trying to find a local supplier when she heard how hard it was for me to get the HotHands to New Orleans before Christmas, but she couldn't find a local supplier where I could just go and pick them up after she paid for them over the phone.
Today I got very good news through Jeff Meyers from Meyers Supply, he told me that he has an overnight shipment coming to me by tomorrow so I have 1 case on hand and then he sent out another 240 pairs and 50 mylar blankets from his CA supply so I would be set. I just met Jeff on the phone over a week ago when I tried and failed at getting the HotHands here before we had those 2 bouts of really cold days/nights, and before Christmas. I was really sad on Christmas eve when I realized that none of the HotHands I had ordered were coming before Christmas. Jeff after witnessing the unbelievable events that were occurring in my endeavors, got even more involved in helping me personally and he has made it possible to get many more HOTHANDS with the $300 I am able to give to him, and he has included 50 mylar blankets and I have to wait until I see the sales receipt, but I think he also covered some of the shipping.* His generosity will never be known to the people I am helping - but the energy of the intention behind his actions - I am very sure, will touch their hearts. Gratitude and thanks Jeff and to my beloved spiritual family for their initial donations that sparked the actions that followed which is going to bring 480 instances of warmth in the upcoming cold nights to come and 50 blankets to help the homeless people of post-Katrina and the levee failures, through the raw weather.
*I just got the receipt from Meyers Supply and Jeff Meyers has put in the 50 mylar blankets and not charged me, he has doubled in HotHands what I had available through financial gifts in offer for payment, and he did not charge me for the overnight shipping. Are you feeling all warm and tingly inside, just as I am, reading this? The whole HotHands phenomena for the homeless came out of manyhands and manyhearts who care. And I get to do what I love, meet with the homeless, speak with them, offer a few hours of kindness in their otherwise difficult existences. And my hand in giving will represent in intention and love, the hands of many. When life is good, it is so very good.
Okay, it is 10:29 p.m., I'm pretty weary. Even so, it is Thursday night - the night I go out to dance with Jah - Reggae night. So I am going to sign off.