Friday, September 02, 2005

The Wrath of Katrina.....

The Wrath of Katrina.....

I have watched this hurricane closely, from the moment it started to develop off the coast of Africa and be named.

My interest?

I have always had a keen interest in hurricanes, but this one more so because it was to be named after my first born child, Katrina Leigh.

When Hurricane Katrina hit land in southern Florida and ran havoc on the residents of Homestead and other areas already harmed by hurricane's in the past my heart became heavy for those that suffered losses.

I watched her head out into the Gulf and my heart paused.....I had a feeling that the fury of Katrina would intensify and I became scared for that southern region of the United States.

As I continued to watch people evacuate, I could not understand those that stayed behind.....and I felt horrible for those that had no choice but to stay behind.

And today, watching the human destruction and anarchy, breaks my heart and weighs on my soul even further.

But I have also witnessed the incredible compassion of people in words, pictures and video.....I truly believe that people are good and compassionate.....that humanity will always shine through the darkness.

We have begun to do our part as a family to help those in need. I will continue to look for ways to continue to give and help.

Besides the Red Cross, another group that is collecting donations that touches my family is the National Down syndrome Society.

They are collecting donations to send to local Down syndrome groups hard hit in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

If you are giving and can add these chartable organizations to your list, we would greatly appreciate it and I know the families in the area who have a loved one with Down syndrome will too.

The first:
The truly wonderful Morgan Freeman has organized an online auction to benefit Red Cross Disaster Relief at the Charity Folks website

And the second:
September 1, 2005

Dear Friends:

Like all of you, we have been terribly saddened and distressed to see the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. We share your deep concerns for the many people affected by this tragedy, including individuals with Down syndrome and their families in these areas.

We have heard from Karen Scallan from the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans, who reports that many of their members have lost their homes and are now in Texas, Tennessee, Florida and other locations.

She is working to track down people they have not spoken to yet. Karen thanks everyone for their prayers and thoughts!

Laura Sherman from the Mobile Area Down Syndrome Support Group is also working to reach out to members in their area who have been displaced by the hurricane, and also expresses her appreciation for everyone's concern.

We have reached out to Kim Duffy at the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society, but have not heard back from her yet.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) has established the Katrina Fund for the Down Syndrome Community, which will be a temporary fund to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans, the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society and the Mobile Area Down Syndrome Support Group.

NDSS has made an initial contribution of $3,000 to the fund, and we invite other interested individuals and groups to donate to the fund either online HERE or by mailing a check to NDSS at 666 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10012.

All checks should include "Katrina Fund" on the memo line.

The deadline to contribute to the fund is September 30.

All monies (100%) collected through the fund will be distributed in October directly to the affiliate groups in Gulfport, New Orleans and Mobile to support local people with Down syndrome and their families.

Each affiliate group can decide how to best utilize the funds by giving cash donations to families in need, buying books for children, supporting their local group activities since their Buddy Walks might not take place this year, or anything else that will be the most helpful!

We realize that even our most generous contributions will be small in relation to the needs but they will be large with respect to the heart of our community.

Whatever the amount, the funds will be distributed in an equitable fashion to the three groups, deferring to their best judgment about how best to use these funds in their respective Down syndrome communities.

If you or your group is interested in contributing in other ways (e.g. offering housing for displaced families, sending supplies, etc.), we suggest contacting the affected groups directly.

Any offers of assistance for New Orleans can be directed to Karen Scallan (, copying Mike Rapier (

We will post updated information about the other groups on as it is available.

Thank you in advance for opening your hearts to the many members of our Down syndrome family who are facing unbelievable hardships as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Pam van der Lee Alan P. Brownstein
Chair, NDSS Board of Directors President, NDSS