Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Notes Of Compassion Sounded In The Aftermath Of Katrina

Out of the cacophony of bad news and heart-rending tragedy emanating from dystopic New Orleans this past week, notes of hope and humanity are beginning to make themselves heard above the raucous clatter of looting and finger-wagging – notes as welcome and as sweet as a Dixieland Jazz riff from Pete Fountain’s clarinet.

Amidst all of the horror, small vignettes are emerging that show common decency and compassion at work. I heard a radio interview a few days ago with a woman who sounded like a retiree. She said something like this: "I sat in front of the TV and cried for the devastation and loss and suffering. And then I thought to myself: 'Don't just cry; you can do something. You can make a difference - even if it is for one family.' So, I went online to Craig's list and offered free housing in my home for a family that wants to take advantage of it."

Along the same lines, WEEI, Boston’s premier sport talk radio station, reported this morning that Curt Schilling and his family have made arrangements to take care of housing a displaced family of nine for the next year. The Boston Globe ran the story this morning. The Schillings had offered the gesture anonymously, but the Globe was tipped off and called the Schillings to verify the story.


What does not come across very clearly in this story is that much of the charitable work that the Schillings do as a couple and as a family is motivated by their strong personal faith. Curt was among ten Red Sox players featured on a fascinating DVD released by Athletes in Action. The DVD, “Reversing The Curse,” features Schilling, Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, and others sharing highlights from the Red Sox Championship season and talking about the role that their faith played in helping them to deal with the roller coaster ride of the 2004 season. (For information on how to receive a copy of this DVD, e-mail me, and I’ll be glad to share to contact information with you.)

The Red Sox organization is pulling out all the stops to find ways of funneling funds to victims of Katrina and her aftermath. Autograph Alley, where I volunteer several times a week during the baseball season, is normally a spot where former players make themselves available to sign free autographs for fans. The Red Sox, for the next several days, will transform Autograph Alley into an avenue for raising funds for the Red Cross disaster relief efforts. This evening, from 5:30-6:30, David Ortiz – known as Big Papi to his fans in Red Sox Nation – will be signing autographs for anyone willing to donate at least $100.00 to the Red Cross. In addition, the Red Sox have equipped Fenway Park with dozens of canisters for cash contributions to the Red Cross located in all corners of the stadium.

Gov. Mitt Romney of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a news conference yesterday announcing that Camp Edwards at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod will be transformed into a refugee center for up to 2,500 displaced individuals. He urged citizens of The Commonwealth to volunteer in a variety of capacities.

The lesson I take away from all of this is that each of us needs to sit down and consider how we may be able to respond to the needs that we are becoming aware of. For some, it may mean sharing our home. For others, a cash contribution may be the most effective way to give. Still others may be in a position to offer a job and a fresh start to a person or family dispossessed by the storm. Or you may be in a position to be able to volunteer some time. How easy it is for us to curse the darkness. I urge you to find a way in keeping with your circumstances and your resources to light a candle to help dispel that darkness.


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