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Page A8 • kokomoherald.com

kokomoherald.com •Thursday, May 2, 2013

Red Cross from Page 1

CAM from Page 1

longer, and more complex path to travel to receive the aid they need. “There are requirements set by the national leadership of the Red Cross that we must adhere to,� he explained. “There is a threshold based on how many inches of water a house receives before we can provide certain forms of aid.� The purpose of those requirements, Figert said, is not to create obstacles for people, but to provide a workable framework for the organization to operate effectively. “We do have a finite number of resources,� he noted. “But the more compelling reason is that we provide a standard level of assistance that plays no favorites and does not allow for politics. No one receives or is denied aid because of their relationship with someone at the Red Cross.� Despite the nationally dictated rules, there are circumstances where the “36 inch rule� is put aside. “If, upon inspection, the basement of a house has collapsed or some other foundational damage has made the house uninhabitable, the resident can receive aid regardless of the water level,� Figert said. Due to the wide range of needs of the flood victims, communicating the various options available has been a priority of Figert and his team. “We held resident meetings prior to the temporary shelters closing to inform the families of all their options,� he said. “The families could be housed at the mission or seek housing through the Trustees’ office, or they could make their own arrangements to stay with friends or family. “In addition, we have helped dozens of other families who have come into our crisis center seeking assistance,� Figert continued. “I’m confident that there was not a need that wasn’t given a resource, but in the end, it comes back to choice. What is the best choice for the person and their family?� One of those vital resources, said Figert, has been the office of Howard County Trustee Jean

as important, we’ve been willing to abandon those approaches that were not working. Every single action has been focused on providing for the needs of our clients.� There are many other groups and organizations in Howard County that provide services for the homeless and downtrodden. CAM works with many of them, and yet manages to stand apart, in Lawson’s view. “Where we are different, I think, is in the personal touch,� Lawson said. “We are a people to people organization rather than a large bureaucracy. Due to the nature of how we do things, we have been able to establish meaningful connections with the people we serve.� Those connections, according to Rev. Lawson, have been key in creating the stability of CAM. “One of the first things I ask someone who comes in for help is if they would be willing to help others once their situation has been improved,� she explained. “Many of the people who once depended on our assistance are now providing assistance to others. It becomes self-sustaining in a way.� Even with willing volunteers and dedicated workers, Lawson stressed that CAM needs continued financial support to continue its mission. As part of the celebration, CAM is also holding a 20th Anni-

Mitch Figert, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of North Central Indiana, says “through our efforts in conjunction with Urban Outreach, mobile feeding trucks have been out in affected neighborhoods from the earliest part of the crisis.� (Herald photo)

Lushin. Mr. Lushin reacted to the crisis swiftly according to Figert. “Mr. Lushin proactively called a meeting, and let us know he wanted to be the lead in housing the displaced,� Figert said. “He wanted to open a clear communication line between our offices to address the problems. “Since then, he has stopped in the command center several times to discuss the situation, and stay abreast of developments,� Figert added. Figert said his discussions with Lushin went beyond the present crisis. “Mr. Lushin was adamant about looking at the bigger picture,� Figert recounted. “He said, ‘we cannot just provide a band aid for today; the river is going to rise again.’ We talked about developing a better plan for the future, including acquiring equipment that could be put in place as soon as a crisis occurs.� Another “big picture� item Figert believes is important involves the financial impact of the Red Cross relief aid. “When we give these families relief funds, they spend

that money in the community,� he said. “Whether they are paying for food, lodging, or supplies, they are putting money back in the local economy which helps the overall recovery. It goes well beyond the individual.� Despite being proud of the support the Red Cross and the community atlarge have provided, Figert said he understands the frustration that still exists for many of those affected. “They’ve lost their homes, either permanently or temporarily, and their entire world has been turned upside down,� he said. “It would be more of a surprise if they were not frustrated and upset.� He emphasized that the Red Cross will continue to work with flood victims in the weeks and months ahead. “Even as we draw down some of the personnel who have been in place, we’ll keep doing our jobs,� Figert stated. “In the long term, we’ll act as a clearinghouse of sorts for damage assessment and referrals, and continue to have our caseworkers available. We’re not going anywhere.�

Bark from Page 1 the day of the event or to pre-register, contact Heidi Johnson at hmjof3@ comcast.net. Funds raised through Bark For Life support the American Cancer So-

Joe Tachkett (L) and Gene Kostrewa of Ameriprise Financial. Tachkett remodeled the Family Hope Center that is located at 210 N. Market Street. (Photo by Rick Wilson)

versary fund drive. “We serve, on average, a thousand people each year,� said Rev. Lawson. “So we are trying to get one thousand people to donate $20 each. It is a modest amount for most individuals, but pooled together it can have a huge impact.� The $20,000 would further CAM’s mission, which is to “move people out of homelessness� and into safe and stable living environments. CAM provides a network of aid by working cooperatively with churches, individuals, and agencies to provide the homeless with the resources they need to make a new start. “We depend entirely on the generosity of others: donations from the churches, the organizations, and the people in our wonderful community,� Lawson explained. “We serve the

people of Howard County as well as people in Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Miami and Tipton Counties.â€? On any given night, CAM shelters 15 men in the building on Market Street, and a few others live in CAM operated trailers as part of their Bill Hudson Project. Additionally, the Family Hope Center can accommodate up to three families at a time. But all of these living arrangements are a temporary step on the way to independence. “The purpose of CAM is not, if you’ll pardon the clichÊ’ to provide a handout, but a hand-up,â€? Lawson said. “We expect to see the men and women we aid move on to brighter and better futures. “That is what drives us, what we are called to do. That is what CAM represents.â€?

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