Friday, August 31, 2012

Feels Like Family: Residents in Shelter Connect with Red Cross Workers

Written by Tonya Solis-Mosby, volunteer contributor
They came seeking refuge from the storm known as Isaac. They brought with them their talents and skills and little else. So, they are using their skills to keep sunshine in an otherwise cloudy time in life.
Residents gather with Red Cross workers who welcomed them to the shelter in Desoto, Texas.
Photo by Kim Purintun/American Red Cross. 
“It’s a tragedy for sure,” said Tremaine Harris of New Orleans, La. “But to come here to Dallas and find the shelter is here (in a church) then you know we are all meant to be here together for some reason.”
Mr. Harris is just one of about 50 people who have found refuge from the storm in the Red Cross Shelter housed at Faith Bible Church in Desoto, TX.  As he talked about the “good food” and the “friendly people” who are Red Cross volunteers and mostly members of the church he remembered the last time he came to Dallas.
“I came here during Katrina and it was nothing like this,” he said, “but this time, I don’t want to go back.” 
Harris said he was tired of running from the storms that plague his hometown. It uproots him from everything, he said, including his business as a barber and from relaxing with the artwork that he draws and paints. 
“I’m a barber and an artist,” he said, showing pictures of his drawings capture on his cell phone camera. “If I was at home, I’d be cutting hair. I want to help around here and cut people’s hair for free but I don’t have my equipment.” 
Soon after hearing of Harris' talent and his hopes to get a job cutting hair here in Dallas, volunteer Markus Nuebauer knew Harris would need one thing that was left behind in Louisiana.
Tremaine Harris with Markus Neubauer with his new clippers.
Photo by Kim Purintun/American Red Cross. 
Mr. Harris said he came to the shelter on Wednesday after arriving in Dallas two days before.
“We came together with some people we met who were coming here and they offered us a ride,” Mr. Harris said pointing to Andrea Spurlock who said the two were neighbors in New Orleans.
“They came here because they had family,” Ms. Spurlock said, “but once we got here, they didn’t have room for us, and they said we needed to find a place to go.”
Ms. Spurlock and Mr. Harris said they found out about the shelter after making a few phone calls, but the people who brought them to Dallas wouldn’t bring them to the shelter.
“They said they didn’t have money for gas and we couldn’t pay them. We walked,” she said, “from a place called Oak Cliff.”
Turner teaches Red Cross worker,
Tonya Solis-Mosby, piano tunes.
Photo by Kim Purintun/American Red Cross. 
A bit weary from their travels upon their arrival, after she began to rest and adjust, she started to offer her services in her field of expertise.
“I do hair,” she said, adding that she had given several haircuts that day. “This is a bad situation for us but it’s like an extra point having them love us and God, too. You can just feel the love in this place.”
As Harris and Spurlock talked about their journey and their stay at the shelter after listening to a musical interlude by Kenyon Turner, a pastor and musician from Braithwaite, LA, who played a piano and sang religious melodies. 
“It’s a divine connection,” he said of everyone – evacuees, volunteers and workers at the Red Cross Shelter. “God has a plan for us.” 
Red Cross PIO, Anita Foster, gets a trim while
residents were offering cuts as gifts of gratitude.
Photo by Kim Purintun/American Red Cross. 

Mr. Turner said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in the shelter. He too said he “felt love” throughout the building.
“Everybody has been so nice,” he said. “This is a bad time for us but they have made it just a little better.”
Others at the shelter included Lucille Fiffie, 70, who traveled with her family, including her daughter and great granddaughter from Edgard, La. Also staying was a new mother who traveled with her three-month-old baby, Kingston.
Red Cross worker, Lilly Watson, takes her turn
with Kingston, the shelter's youngest resident.
Photo byKim Purintun/American Red Cross. 
“I think I just want to stay (in Dallas),” said the mom, adding that she hopes she can find a job in Dallas like her present position. “I work in a morgue. I’m an embalmer.”
The new mom, who is from Alexandria, La., said she came to Dallas with friends but then they didn’t have room for her once they arrived. 
“We will have to stay here until they say we have to go and then we will decide what we can do,” she said. “But I’m happy. Everyone is really nice here at the shelter. They took to my baby and as long as he is alright then I’m alright.”
As the sun went down, the evacuees and the Red Cross workers met in a meeting to discuss future plans for the shelter. Once the meeting was finished, everyone was expected to settle down for the night and wait for word on tomorrow about their homes.
American Red Cross has opened 80 shelters in seven states and remains heavily involved in a massive response spanning the Gulf Coast states.
If you want to help, make a financial donation at or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. To make a $10 donation text REDCROSS to 90999.

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