Funds for Grassroots groups in the gulf coast--funds

colist at colist at
Thu Sep 1 21:55:05 CDT 2005

(I am dividing this thread into discussion of the issue and funds. This 
is the funds sub-thread, but it includes pleas more than answers.]

From:    nancynye at

This is a forwarded message from Southern Mutual Help Association in New 
Iberia, LA. NN
Southern Mutual Help Association must call upon all of you to help us.

Louisiana is in the midst of a catastrophe. Not only is New Orleans
devastated but so are so many of the surrounding rural communities.
Fishers and family farmers already under the stress of international
trade agreements, have now lost homes and the very means of creating a
livelihood to recover. Many rural small businesses are destroyed. The
crops in many areas are gone - cane, citrus, soybeans. The fisheries
are destroyed in large areas of Louisiana's coast. This is a crisis for
small farmers, farm workers and fisher families.

SMHA knows from our lengthy recovery from hurricane Andrew in August of
1992 that rural areas are last and receive the least. Focus will
understandably be on urban areas such as New Orleans, on oil and gas
installations, on search, rescue and the basics of life like water,
food, shelter, medical treatment.

Many agencies and generous souls will be seeing to those needs.

SMHA is still assessing the situation of directly impacted rural
communities and families. We already know the Acadiana region around
Lafayette will have approximately 150,000 refugees looking first for
where to be for the time away from their homes (likely to be lengthy),
and secondly how to possibly recover and rebuild their future.

SMHA as a rural development organization needs your help in the recovery

SMHA needs money. It will take millions for dollars in grants and
specially structured loans to help rural families recover.

After Andrew, SMHA learned a great deal. Specially trained volunteers
like doctors, nurses, carpenters are helpful especially if they can be
responsible for their own expenses, transportation and shelter out of
the impacted area. Too many volunteers and clothes are simply a burden.
Well handled money is the most urgently needed response and helps the
most. SMHA has, as you know, 36 years of responsibly handling money and
achieving mission.

Please do all you can and then try to figure out how you can do more.
Please alert your network to our appeal.

Louisiana and the rural poor need you now. Please contact us as soon as

In deepest appreciation for you all.

Lorna Bourg
Executive Director
Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.
(337) 367-3277 <>
smha at <mailto:smha at>


"David Chavis" <dchavis at>

From: SCRA-L Div27 General Membership List [mailto:SCRA-L at LISTS.APA.ORG] 
On Behalf Of Krys Kaniasty

Subject: Emergency housing drive at Pass it on.

Do you have a spare room, bed or couch to offer a family fleeing 
hurricane Katrina?

Please forward this message to anyone in the Southeast who can help.

Dear MoveOn member,

Hurricane Katrina's toll on communities, homes and lives has devastated 
the nation. Now victims must face the daunting question of where to go 
next—and we can help.

Tens of thousands of newly homeless families are being bused to a 
stadium in Houston, where they may wait for weeks or months. At least 
80,000 are competing for area shelters, and countless more are in 
motels, cars, or wherever they can stay out of the elements. The Federal 
Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross are scrambling to find 
shelter for the displaced.

This morning, we've launched an emergency national housing drive to 
connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a 
place to wait out the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare 
room, extra bed, even a decent couch) and search for available housing 
online at:

Housing is most urgently needed within reasonable driving distance 
(about 300 miles) of the affected areas in the Southeast, especially New 

Please forward this message to anyone you know in the region who might 
be able to help.

But no matter where you live, your housing could still make a world of 
difference to a person or family in need, so please offer what you can.

The process is simple:

# You can sign up to become a host by posting a description of whatever 
housing you have available, along with contact information. You can 
change or remove your offer at any time.

# Hurricane victims, local and national relief organizations, friends 
and relatives can search the site for housing. We'll do everything we 
can to get your offers where they are needed most. Many shelters 
actually already have Internet access, but folks without 'net access can 
still make use of the site through case workers and family members.

# Hurricane victims or relief agencies will contact hosts and together 
decide if it's a good match and make the necessary travel arrangements. 
The host's address is not released until a particular match is agreed on.

If hosting doesn't work for you, please consider donating to the Red 
Cross to help with the enormous tasks of rescue and recovery. You can 
give online at:

As progressives, we share a core belief that we are all in this 
together, and today is an important chance to put that idea to work. 
There are thousands of families who have just lost everything and need a 
place to stay dry. Let's do what we can to help.

Thanks for being there when it matters most.

—Noah Winer and the whole Civic Action Team
Thursday, September 1st, 2005


"rturner at" <rturner at>

The needs of hard dollars for the Katrina relief efforts sparked a small
discussion within our office, thanks to our hardworking, enterprising HR
guru, regarding the feasibility of donating unused funds from individual
"125 plans" (pre-tax health spending accounts) towards Red Cross or other
relief efforts for basics and medical supplies. 

Roughly, we're wondering if people can contribute their leftover amt from
those (or similar plans?) as they choose to purchase medical supplies, turn
in the receipts, and get reimbursed as per normal. Instead of buying items
that they may not really need right now it could go to a good cause
(assuming there's a list of supplies available). It's basically
tax-deductible, but at a higher amount than a regular donation. But then
there may also be additional cash on hand to donate to organizations
involved in relief, whereas the money might otherwise be forfeited due to
overestimating the amounts individuals may have needed for the year.

Didn't President Bush make a similar exception for the Tsunami relief
efforts, whereby donations were treated as tax-deductible past the normal
end-of-year cutoff point?

If it were possible to do so, it could add up to a lot of money, perhaps.
We're just wondering about additional ways to help get money where needed,
so I wanted to ask on behalf of the staff.

Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected, and hope and optimism for the
work ahead...

Ryan Turner
Community Technology Centers' Network
Washington, DC

"Adam Sotak" <AdamSotak at>

I would suggest that you contact Winnett Hagens, Executive Director,
Democracy South. They have affiliates in the Gulf Coast area, including
La. Democracy Project, Mississippi Equity Coalition, Alabama ARISE,
etc... The Democracy South network focuses on the issue of money in
politics, voting rights, and voter participation, however, its member
groups have larger, diverse grassroots missions outside those parameters
as well.

Winnett Hagens
whagens at or

Democracy South
304 B 49th Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

...and what's the connection? Big money in politics has played a key
part in exacerbating this disaster, just ask the environmentalists and
public health advocates that have tried to fight the big-money, campaign
contributing developers and oil industry tycoons who are destroying the
wetlands at a rate of an acre every 24 minutes around New Orleans and
whose Gulf Coast refineries constantly dumping toxic junk into the air
and water down there.

Adam Sotak, Organizer
Democracy North Carolina
Carrboro, NC

> From: "Mark Sherman" <MSherman at>
> Hi,
> We're wondering what funds have been set up by or for the grassroots
> groups that have been doing work in the Gulf Coast areas destroyed by
> the hurricane. We'd like to get them pubicized.
> We found that ACORN has started a fund (based on looking at their
> donation page, but there is not yet information about it on their home
> page) and we've blogged about it on PTP's web site. We're looking for
> requests from other area community organizing groups or funds oriented
> to them to publicize.
> Does anyone else have some links to share?
> Mark Sherman
> Executive Director
> Progressive Technology Project
> msherman at
> 2801 21st Av S, Ste 132E
> Minneapolis, MN 55407
> 612-724-2600 ext 15
> Toll-Free 1-866-298-6463
> FAX 612-395-9153
> ***********************
> [ed: As an outsider to this horrific event, I am speaking out of 
> ignorance except for almost constant watching of the local New Orleans 
> news webcasts. But from what I have been learning from those webcasts, 
> I have seen again and again what appears to be the failure of 
> authorities to get the most from the people of New Orleans. Locking up 
> people in the Superdome, and not organizing them to care for 
> themselves and perhaps even preventing them from caring for 
> themselves, amazes me. Every report gave the impression that those 
> running the Superdome lockup didn't bother to organize people into 
> teams to collectively manage and clean the place. Now they are being 
> sent to the Astrodome, and will the mistakes be repeated? In another 
> case, volunteers that arrived with boats for search and rescue were 
> prevented from going out instead of organizing and providing a quick 
> training. I have been thinking for the past three days, what would an 
> organizer do? And it just seems that there are so many fundamental 
> lessons being neglected. Of course, I am not there, and have no idea 
> of the practical difficulties, but I hope that the people who are 
> there, when they have the chance to take a breath, reflect on whether 
> some of the basic lessons of community organizing could be deployed 
> the next time something like this happens.] 
> _______________________________________________

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