I've had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of Idaho (CCI) since its inception in 2001. CCI's national network, Catholic Charities USA, has been in the disaster recovery business for 100 years or so, and is at the forefront of efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I'm pleased that CC Idaho staff and Idaho volunteers are making their way to Houston, in coordination with national and state relief organizations, to help resettle some evacuees to Idaho for as long as is needed until they can find a way back to their homes and lives.
This has been a colossal nightmare, as everyone knows, but in the quiet of non-profit organizations and homes all around the country we can see the beginnings of light at the end of the tunnel.
If anyone is interested in how they can help out, email me for Idaho contacts or check out the national Catholic Charities website at Catholic Charities USA.
Below is a reprint of an email I received last night from CCI's Development Director Kristan Schlichte who is coordinating Idaho's Catholic Relief efforts to let you know some of the scope of CCI's efforts. We may be thousands of miles away, but we aren't helpless.
"Here is today’s update from CCUSA.
Today (9/2) (Idaho Catholic) Bishop Mike Driscoll asked me to coordinate the diocesan disaster response. Along with staff from Catholic Charities of Idaho, we met with diocesan leaders to brainstorm some immediate ways to assist the victims. I am traveling to Houston tomorrow along with 3 Treasure Valley volunteers to identify families for immediate transition to Idaho. Marcie Wilske, our new Parish Social Ministry Director, is coordinating with self-identified families who want to bring victims into their homes. The details are being worked out between CCI and local parish volunteers.
We have also made initial contact with the Governor’s Office, the office of Boise's Mayor, Homeland Security and the Idaho Careline. We are prepared to match victims to volunteers statewide as part of Phase 2 of our efforts. 211 Careline will direct potential volunteers to Catholic Charities of Idaho. We have an online housing assistance form for people to complete and return. Executive Director Marie Hoff is planning to hire additional temp. staff to help case manage the families who come to Idaho. More about the details of this later.
If you have ideas or suggestion, please contact Marcie Wilske here at CCI. We are working with United Way and Catholic Charities in Houston. My friend, Fr. JJ Mc Carthy, O.Carm., is the pastor of St. Bernadette’s Catholic Community in Houston. He is giving us hospitality and his parishioners will assist us with logistics as necessary. We will try to get the Idaho National Guard to provide return transportation for the victims. If not on this trip, then on subsequent phases, I am hoping the St. Bernadette parishioners who are part of NASA will help coordinate charters with the USAF. Right now everything is very fluid.
I am grateful for the opportunity to utilize my experience in disaster relief to put our agency and diocese on the forefront of “hands-on” response. I ask for your prayers and any contacts you might have with the corporate community to assist us in this resettlement effort. The duration of time for people to be in our care could be from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the needs of the individual families and the kind of supportive services we can muster.
These are indeed refugees because they have nowhere to return. CCUSA is mounting a huge effort to coordinate good will and resources with victims needs. It is called Operation Home Away From Home. We can be proud of our Catholic network. I will have my laptop with me and can be reached at my home e-mail address. I will keep in touch. Pray for these initial efforts at bringing relief to the Katrina victims.