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May 26, 2006Nine months after Hurricane Katrina crossed the Gulf Coast, and just a few days away from the beginning of the 2006 Hurricane Season, AmeriCares is continuing to bring help and hope to many of those who are continuing their recovery from Katrina.
Most recently, AmeriCares has completed its first grant cycle to support local communities in their rebuilding efforts, and is now in the midst of a second grant cycle focusing on primary care and mental health needs. These two grant cycles will contribute more than $6.3 million to grassroots recovery efforts. In the immediate days and weeks after the disaster, AmeriCares delivered in-kind aid valued at more than $8.1 million to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama. These donations of medicines, medical supplies and other materials helped those struggling through the emergency phase, supported the initial rebuilding of the healthcare infrastructure and brought shelter to those who were most in need.
AmeriCares continues to collaborate with local partners in the affected areas, ensuring that our aid is appropriate and meets the greatest needs of the communities who have asked for our help. The following is a summary of some of our key efforts to date.
Helping Communities Help ThemselvesTo date, AmeriCares has awarded more than $1.3 million grants to grassroots organizations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas who are addressing the most pressing recovery issues, including nutritional and medical needs; shelter; volunteer support; children’s health and welfare, including pre-school and summer camp programs; and livelihood issues. The maximum grant amount was $25,000, and through these grants, AmeriCares has funded 57 projects across the three states.
For example, a $25,000 grant to the City of Pass Christian Recovery, Inc., in Mississippi, is supporting child health and welfare programs with the provision of equipment and the construction of a day care center that will give Katrina’s youngest survivors a safe, secure place to play, thus giving their parents peace of mind, too.
“We really needed funding to help where our citizens most needed assistance,” said Pass Christian Alderman Lou Rizzardi. “AmeriCares has played a tremendous role in giving our kids a better environment. Without that support, we’d have no daycare center.”
A $25,000 grant to Lutheran Social Services (LSS) in Austin, Texas, is helping address the unmet needs of residents in the region of southeast Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana. These funds are providing direct assistance to people who are having difficulty finding other support, covering the cost of prescription medicines and other medical needs; helping with rent, utilities and emergency assistance for those who have lost their homes; and purchasing building materials to assist in rebuilding.
“We are grateful that we received this grant, and know that this will allow us to keep serving those affected by the devastating hurricanes of last year,” said Tom Minor, executive director of disaster response for LSS. “There are still many families who are piecing their lives back together who need our help.”
Supporting Primary Healthcare and Mental Health NeedsAmeriCares is in the midst of a second grant cycle, which will contribute $5 million to supporting the primary healthcare and mental health programs in the affected communities. AmeriCares is partnering with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Community Foundation of Acadiana for this second grant cycle. The goal of this program is to support up to 50 local groups working in these fields with grants of up to $100,000 each to restore and strengthen their capacity to serve their communities.
Looking Back at AmeriCares Emergency ResponseIn the days following the hurricane, AmeriCares dispatched emergency response teams to Mississippi and Louisiana. In the first week after Katrina struck, AmeriCares delivered nearly $1 million in aid to Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as to Alabama, where thousands of people were also affected by the Category 4 storm. Later, relief teams were dispatched to Texas. By the two-month mark, AmeriCares had delivered aid valued at $4 million to the four states.
The AmeriCares Free Clinics mobile health unit joined the relief effort early on, departing from Stamford, Connecticut, and traveling to Baton Rouge. For four weeks, the mobile medical clinic, which usually services Connecticut’s uninsured working poor, helped to provide basic health care services for first responders in New Orleans, as well as hundreds of others living in temporary shelters throughout affected areas. The clinic was staffed with doctors and residents from Louisiana State University and Tulane University, as well as volunteer nurses and a volunteer team from the AmeriCares Free Clinics.
AmeriCares also helped many other health care facilities in the first two months after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, by providing a steady supply of medicines, medical supplies and medical equipment to those in need. Among those who requested and received help: Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Lafayette General Medical Center and the New Orleans Blood Center in Louisiana; Crosby Memorial Hospital, Mississippi Emergency Management Association, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Biloxi Regional Medical Center in Mississippi; San Antonio Metro Health District, San Jacinto Methodist Hospital, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and Harris County Hospital District in Texas.
Looking AheadOne of the things AmeriCares does best is to fulfill “unmet needs”— provide assistance that other organizations can’t provide. Several projects are currently in development that play an important role in the recovery of Gulf Coast communities. In addition, AmeriCares is now collaborating with new “Long-term Recovery Organizations,” that are being organized by local service agencies to respond to the long-term needs. In the coming months, AmeriCares will continue to support these organizations, to give the Hurricane Katrina communities the financial resources they need in as timely manner as possible.
Charity Navigator, America’s premier independent charity evaluator, has published an incisive report on efforts in the Hurricane Katrina area, “Where Did the Money Go?” which can be accessed here.