Contact: K.E. Schwab -- 724-738-2199;
SRU COUNSELOR RETURNS WITH WEALTH OF
STORIES FROM NEW ORLEANS
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.
– Dr. Carol Holland, associate professor in the Slippery Rock
University Counseling Center, spent 10 days of her holiday break in
hurricane-ravaged New Orleans offering counseling services to flood
victims and now has enough stories to fill a newspaper.
I heard are tremendous and run the gambit from deeply personal to
deeply moving,” says the veteran counselor who volunteers her
time through the American Red Cross. She says her most recent
experience was similar to her volunteer work following the Sept.
11, 2000, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York
City, but notes the New Orleans devastation affected thousands
more. An estimated 2.2 million people in the Gulf Coast region were
affected by the August hurricane
cases, the people affected have shown resiliency. In New Orleans,
there are people who have nothing left, yet they are working hard
to recover and return their lives to normal,” she
confidences or details that could link her stories to the
individuals she counseled, Holland has a myriad of stories to tell.
Her most recent work included help with handing out cleaning
supplies to those whose homes were all but destroyed by Hurricane
Katrina and the results of failed levees. “In one case, I met
a man who was living in a FEMA [Federal Emergence Management
Agency] tent city and I asked him what he needed. I expected he
would say ‘food, shelter or clothing,’ but was amazed
to find he needed spiritual guidance. He and others in the tent
city knew Christmas was fast approaching, but had not been part of
an organized spiritual community since the floods had hit their
community washing away his church and many of its members.
Spiritual guidance was truly what this man wanted – and
Holland explains, only the day before she had met a nearby pastor
who was holding services in a small home already cleaned up after
the flood. She contacted the minister who readily agreed to visit
the tent city and organize services. “It was a very good
feeling to help provide the service these people needed,”
excursion took her to a variety of areas in the city, including
low-income areas as well as more affluent areas – equally
devastated by the flood waters. “Our group was handing out
cleaning supplies -- brooms, bleach, shovels and buckets –
which were readily accepted by all. In one case, an elderly woman
arrived in a older-model car, to proudly announced she was not
among the looters who had struck following the calamity and was
proud to accept the much-needed supplies,” says Holland. She
says cleaning supply delivery provided opportunities to meet people
and offer counseling as well as information on resources available
Her stories also
include the pleasure of seeing so many young people –
teenagers and young adults – stepping up in relief efforts.
“There are students from across the country, and there are
young people from the area organizing workers and getting projects
under way to help restore order and normalcy to daily life.”
SRU’s Institute for Community, Service-Learning and Nonprofit
Leadership dispatched a 16-member contingent to New Orleans earlier
this week. The group is working with the Episcopal Diocese of New
Orleans on community-service projects.
Holland, a member
of the SRU faculty since 1993, says although there is much bad
news, including on-going problems related to bureaucracy, insurance
coverage, loss of jobs and family and neighborhood relationships,
she also saw the community react to good news. “There are
still lots of areas outside the main city where traffic lights are
not yet operational, but while I was there, they announced five
trolley cars were being placed into service and you could see the
local spirit boost,” she explains.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Holland is available for
interviews at 724-738-2132.
PN, PgN, WPN, PR, TV