Monday, September 05, 2005

Blogging from the Astrodome: Ring the Bell

Will Reed and his team from Technology for All continue to blog from the Astrodome. I'm humbled by the extraodinary effort they've put into launching a community technology center at the Astrodome. Here's a recent post. -andy

We did not have a bell, but today our volunteers and members of the Evacuee Community began a new tradition in the room. Everytime someone was reconnected with a family member or loved one, the room cheered. There were high fives and smiles and celebrations. Over 1,000 persons came through the ACT Center today. It was a good day!

The support from both the Evacuee Community and the community of care across the U. S. has been tremendous. Yahoo sent twenty volunteers from California. They were great! We have several volunteers who paid their own way from other states and we been overwhelmed with the support of Houston volunteers. Several in the evacuee community have become regular volunteers assisting those with limted computer skills. As I write this, there are over fifty volunteers that will be spending the night doing data entry of paper forms filled out by evacuees on the floor of the dome.

We have learned many lessons along the way and will share them with other sites across Texas and U.S. The most important work is the interaction between volunteers and evacuees as they search for loved ones. For many the conversation is therapeutic. The computers are only a tool. Thanks to each of you who have made this work possible, especially the hundreds of caring volunteers who sat with Houston's new residents.

This work will not be complete for many months. Now we are helping persons find loved ones. Tomorrow, the need will be housing, job training and searching, and for many, assimilation to life in a new hometown. Keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers. A new community is being birthed. It is a community that understands that life is a gift!