Nurse Aims to Provide Home Away From Home
During the week after Hurricane
Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Sue Roach, a nurse in health
services, closely followed the reports of the aftermath with
an increasing need to help the victims in some way.
“I just wanted to do something,”
said Roach, who has worked at Smith for 11 years. “I
was absolutely glued to the TV the week after the hurricane.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. I’m a nurse,
I love people, and I wanted to either bring a family here
or help a family on a personal level.”
Within days, Roach teamed with
her friend and Northampton neighbor, Jill Lombardi, and the
two devised a plan to raise $20,000 to assist two families
displaced by Hurricane Katrina’s damage.
They call their project Home
Away from Home.
With some 10 other women, Roach
and Lombardi went to work getting the word out, printing fliers,
soliciting attention from the media, and holding a bake sale
early on that raised $650. In only about three weeks, the
Home Away from Home project is more than half way to its goal,
thanks in part to one anonymous $10,000 donation.
The team has identified the McFarland
family and the Rogers family, both from New Orleans, as the
recipients of their efforts. The McFarlands include father
Edward, mother Destiny (who is due to give birth on October
17), son Marcel, 6, and daughter Ebony, 2. The Rogers are
father Marvin, mother Dionne, daughter Kenione, 15 (who is
due to give birth this winter), son Kenneth, 11, daughter
Cheyenne, 8, and son Nathaniel, 4, who has recently been located
after missing for two weeks following the hurricane.
The two families have been living
in the Bonita Street House of Hope shelter in Houston, Texas.
The Home Away from Home project aims to resettle the McFarlands
and Rogers in two apartments, to pay their rental costs for
one year, and help furnish both units.
“If we can move these families
out of the shelter, then it will make space for other needy
families to move in,” says Roach.
Roach hopes this month to take
advantage of Smith’s offer to grant up to one week of
paid leave for employees who wish to assist in hurricane relief
efforts. She plans to travel to Houston to monitor the delivery
of funds and donated items to the McFarlands and Rogers, and
to assist in moving them into their new apartments.
Home Away from Home is organizing
a benefit concert for its cause on Friday, October 21, at
the Union Station restaurant, featuring the Michael Hooker
Band. Tickets are available for $25 at Coopers Corners in
Florence and Dynamite Records in Thornes Market. All proceeds
will go to the two families.
For more information or to donate
to Home Away from Home, call Roach, 586-5351, Lombardi at
584-1858 or Melissa Ross, 584-7208.