Friday, September 09, 2005


Inside the DC Armory:

Comfortable, Quiet

Well, I must say that my skepticism of the Red Cross took a big hit yesterday when I headed over to the DC Armory to sign up to help out with the 288 folks who've been relocated to DC. From a volunteer standpoint, things were a bit frenetic, chaotic, but in a positive productive kind of way. Lots of volunteers showing up to sign up for shifts and training, and an ever changing array of more senior volunteers trying to set up a command/management structure. But the end result was sort of a fluid, cooperative atmosphere were everyone was willing to adapt and do what was needed to make the guests comfortable. It was impressive.

The facility itself, while certainly not ideal, appeared comfortable and relaxed. Half of the armory was reserved as a sleeping area (Guest quarters if you will) that was divided into men's, family, and women's areas. The overhead lighting in this area was off, allowing folks to rest. The other half of the facility was set up like a food court/mall. Food service stations, an internet cafe, an area with clothes and toiletries and a TV area. Local relief agencies were there as well with the Dept. of Mental Health providing counseling and the Dept. of Employment Services providing job assistance. Even the private sector had established a mini village in the parking lot with a Colgate trailer handing out supplies, a mini-clinic trailer from Children's hospital and some other trailers I couldn't make out.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the guests in the Red Cross shelter here, but the volunteer army seems to be doing their best to make them comfortable and provide the needed services for them to cope with their immediate needs. A bit of a hassle for volunteers to sign up for shifts and such, but nothing caused by lack of organization but rather a tremendous outpouring of volunteers.

I should also note, that the DC public schools have really stepped up on this. I don't know if the union is encouraging teachers to volunteer in the evenings, but nearly 2/3's of the folks there last night were from the DC Public School system....Good for them.

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