Friday, September 09, 2005


Three days ago Pearlie's story was shared. Her husband was lost somewhere in an Austin shelter. We knew he was in Austin, but we did not know where. Wednesday night, with the help of volunteers, she spoke to her husband on the phone for the first time since Tuesday, eight days before. Pearlie had not slept in three nights because she was so concerned. As she shared her story with excitement and glee, Pearlie said "I won't be able to sleep tonight either." The volunteer that assisted Pearlie to find her husband and make that phone call took her home, provided her a bed for the night, a nice warm shower, and then drove her to Austin and back yesterday. Pearlie and her husband were reunited through the efforts of caring and concerned volunteers. Last night they slept next to one another on cots on the floor of the Astrodome. Today, they began looking for an apartment together as they prepared for their new life in Houston.

Volunteers have been the heart of this relief effort. We have had over 250 volunteers register for service in the ACT Center at the the Reliant Arena and the Reliant Center. There are many more whose names we did not capture on paper, but helped. Thousands of hours of volunteer service have made it possible for evacuees to find loved ones, register for various relief programs and connect on the human level with persons who cared and listened to their stories. The best estimate is that volunteers have committed over 3,000 hours of volunteer service to this project. We are grateful for these efforts without which this project would not be possible. Several of our most experienced and helpful volunteers have been members of the evacuee community. Several more traveled from other cities across the U.S. to spend a week or more in Houston assisting evacuees.

NOTICE TO VOLUNTEERS - Reliant Park has experienced intermittent shutdowns. The Community Technology Centers at Reliant Park still need volunteers. To enter the park successfully, enter the park at the volunteer entrance on Kirby, register in Reliant Center and make your way to the ACT Center on the bottom floor of the dome at the south entrance. Once there you will be trained and assigned to a place of service.

We especially thank our persistent volunteers who have been here day after long day. There are many, but Greg, Liz, Travis, Will (the other one), Lynn, James, Eugenia, Melissa, and Paul have been here day after day.

CONTRIBUTIONS - Many organizations and individuals have contributions to this effort. In addition to the early contributors Technology For All (www.techforall.org ), SBC (www.sbc.org ), CompuCycle (www.compucycle.net ), SimHouston ( www.simhouston.org ) and Yahoo (www.yahoo.com ), we have received more recent in-kind contributions to this effort from HP, IBM (through SBC) Reliant Energy, Plains All American Pipeline, AMD, Pinnacle Wireless, Motion Computing and many more. In addition to our direct out of pocket expenses, TFA has made significant investments in the project out of our cash reserves.

At this point (Saturday) do they still need wireless laptops at the Astrodome? I can bring mine if it helps -- it's an iBook, which I understand might not be able to access all the FEMA forms? If not I can just bring myself.

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