By the Rev. Jane Bearden, priest-in-residence from the Diocese of Massachusetts, Church of the Redeemer, Biloxi, MS
I get a lot of calls asking “what can I do?” My answer is usually “lots”. Here are some possibilities:
- Get involved in leading a mission trip to the Gulf Coast or New Orleans. Katie Mears leads a team of “supers” who will teach you the skills necessary to help build and rehab houses in New Orleans. In addition, there are several places to learn on the job in MS. Rev Jane can help you find the right niche.
- Support the Gulf Coast Partnership and the work of the Diocese of Massachusetts. For more information contact Bishop Bud Cederholm’s office.
- Provide direct financial help to residents of the Gulf Coast through the donation of Gift Cards. Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, JC Penney’s or Sears are the easiest for the Gulf Coast residents to redeem.
- If you are a medical professional, please consider joining Samaritans Now. The capacity to provide medical care in New Orleans and in some parts of Mississippi has been severely reduced. The Episcopal Church is working to improve access to medical care; in New Orleans, St. Anna’s Church is operating a free clinic with a medical van in the 9th ward, and in Biloxi, the Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Response (LEDR) is providing a free medical clinic in a local church. Samaritans Now sends a team of medical workers, mainly physicians and nurses, to work in Louisiana or Mississippi for one week each month.
- Be an advocate! The Gulf Coast needs help staying on top of legislation and policy changes that effect our environment, our access to housing, and human rights. One good site for getting up to speed is the Steps Coalition at stepscoalition.org. The Times Picayune is a reliable source for news in New Orleans and the Sun Herald in Biloxi. MA Action for the Gulf Coast is a Massachusetts group working to help advocate for a fair treatment of disaster victims. Keep the issue of fair and equitable treatment for the Gulf Coast on the agenda for legislators.
- Partner with a local church or organization. This is a great way to build up the church and to spread God’s work into the world. Rev. Jane can help you locate a potential partner in need of financial or other assistance and support.
- Partner with another Massachusetts parish or organization to form a trip or to help out someone on the coast. Remember that some of the more powerful opportunities lie in interfaith and ecumenical efforts.
- Learn about the ecological impact of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and how it will in the end adversely effect all of us.
- Pray for us as we continue the long road to recovery and reconciliation.