September 14, 2005 News & Features » Cover Story


Looking for Good 

We heard stories of separated families, long journeys to Virginia, misplaced prescriptions, and children who were missing the first day of school back home. They were unaware that there was no school at home. Like their houses, it was all washed away. A father told us of strangers who gave his family money for gas and the people who offered them a place to stay in their home.

All my life I have had a roof over my head and food to eat. I learned that I should never be a slave to my possessions because they can be gone in the blink of an eye. I was told not to worry about broken "things" but worry about broken hearts and broken bones. Now I was talking to people who had lost everything. What do I say to the woman who hasn't heard from her daughter in New Orleans — knowing that I talk to my daughters almost every day? Family is the most precious thing.

Our office has received more than 10,000 calls from local residents, businesses, churches and schools. Everyone wants to help. As a lifelong resident of Richmond this makes me most proud. That no matter what faith, creed or ethnic origin we have all come together as Americans helping Americans.

There is a saying that disasters can bring out the best and the worst in people. While a small minority will attempt to take advantage of the well-meaning public, this is countered by the overwhelming response of truly good people who do good simply because it is in their nature to do so.

Kathleen Burke Barrett is chief executive officer of the Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Katrina Continued...

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