Letter To The Editor
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 3:45pm
Meaghan Durance, Jacksonville, FL
As hurricane Matthew barrels down on the Southeast coast, shelters open up in many communities. Primarily financed by the Red Cross, volunteers from local church organizations, small businesses, and individuals just wanting to help, all come together for those who have nowhere to go while they are unsure of the status of their homes and belongings.
Motels and hotels fill up towards the West, leaving those without to seek shelter.
The variances of temporary residents in cot-filled rooms is all over the spectrum. So many personal stories of hardships and last minute evacuations.
My daughter and I began heading West soon after we were warned to leave our home in Jacksonville. Not wanting to share the interstate with several millions of others, I decided to head towards Douglas, Georgia by way of the back roads.
Not knowing what to do when we got there, I took advantage of my Anytime Fitness membership where we had access to showers and a sofa for my daughter while I camped out in our SUV.
Not the best night sleep for either of us, I went to a nearby Gate station for coffee the next morning where I met my first "angel" from Douglas, Ms. Emily. She was surprisingly inviting and helpful as she directed me to the local community center where close to 300 other storm-runners had claimed cots until it was clear to return to their homes.
With volunteers from the Red Cross and local community, the coordination from these wingless angels was beautifully instinct! They met every individual's need as if each of us was the only one being catered to. For the children there were 3 stations devoted to making this event vacation-like as many of their voices were heard stating, with enthusiasm, "this is the best vacation ever!"
Although my daughter is chronologically 24 years of age, she was born with a rare form of Down Syndrome and immediately blended in with the other youngsters, making several new friends. She even complained when I told her it was time to go home, wanting to stay a few more days.
I wish I had collected all the names involved in the circle of volunteers, but they all deserve equal recognition!
Home cooked meals in abundance, personal hygiene products, flip-flops for use in the showers, blankets, pillows, towels. Tables set up with crayons, pens, games, puzzles, activity books. A separate room with kids' bingo, prized included.
Miss Williams, my own personal hero during the event, as well as her beautiful mother, went above and beyond the call of duty for both my daughter and I. Ms. Sonya, a local school teacher, stopped by to drop off donations she had gathered and stayed a sleepless night to help out.
The selfless, unconditional giving of the people of Douglas, Georgia cannot go unnoticed!
A community I would be more than proud to call my home!
At a time of possible devastation, the wings and halos of a heartfelt community came together for those searching for shelter from the storm.
Thank you and bless you all!
12564 Moose Rd.
Jacksonville, FL 32226
See page 4A in the Sunday, October 16, 2016 edition of The Douglas Enterprise