Eighteen Hours In A Red Cross Shelter

Red Cross volunteers are trained and their skills are assessed to determine the best use of their abilities. Volunteers are offered a variety of opportunities from which to choose so that the volunteer experience will be positive and enriching. Some choose to be on call for emergency response to events such as house or apartment fires, as well as, accidents where humans are displaced from their homes.  This week, many people whose paths would have otherwise never crossed are working together to offer safe haven, hot meals, hugs and hope to those evacuated from the path of Hurricane Isaac.

Day before yesterday, I received a call to serve in a shelter. Shifts in a Red Cross shelter are twelve hours. I arrived in the afternoon for the overnight shift at a large facility. It had obviously been well cared for by those entrusted to be good stewards of the impressive space, which is usually a family life and youth center. The staff and congregation of Faith Bible Church had trained and practiced for three years to prepare for an event when a Red Cross shelter would be needed in their area. It was evident to me that they were dedicated to service as I witnessed the  loving kindness of everyone  I encountered.

The different areas were staffed for the evening. It would soon be time for the evening meal. So, I went to the kitchen where hot meals provided by a local caterer were served by Red Cross volunteers. Once the meals were served to guests and staff and the serving area was cleaned, I walked around and chatted with the guests; young mothers, an elderly lady in a wheelchair, a woman seated next to a piano, listening as another guest played. Each had their own story, some remembering with sadness their experience during Hurricane Katrina, just seven years ago. As I listened to them tell how they’d traveled there, some with strangers, some with family, leaving their homes, looking for a shelter, I was moved by how courageous they were.

Overnight I listened to volunteers sharing their own experiences as we cleaned bathrooms, put up health and safety instructions throughout the facility and waited for news about the hurricane and the possible arrival of more guests. Local officials toured the facility to get a better understanding of how a shelter operates and news crews interviewed some of the guests. Morning came, we served breakfast, then lunch. By early afternoon I was saying my goodbyes to a few of the people with whom I’d worked closely.

I learned some things in those eighteen hours; things about trust and the human spirit, about the value of practical experience and knowing when not to speak. Even a few things about politics.

It takes an enormous effort to coordinate the logistics of volunteers and services needed for a relief effort. Red Cross staff and volunteers work around the clock, not only during a disaster, but also every day to prepare for any eventuality. As it is with life, things don’t always go as planned. During times of stress, flexibility is key in making sure everyone stays focused on the goal. When priorities shift or unexpected circumstances arise, it is important to have the ability and willingness to roll with it. Everyone can demonstrate leadership; even in the role of a follower.

Yesterday I was exhausted and yet today, strangely energized.

Bracing For Impact

Tropical Storm Isaac

On the eve of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the Gulf Coast and American Red Cross volunteers are preparing to respond. You can visit here for more information. If you are concerned about family and friends in the affected areas, you can search to see if they have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking here

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To find out how you can get involved, click here.  

While I personally enjoy watching thunderstorms roll in, I would not stick around to observe a hurricane. Evacuating BEFORE disaster strikes can save lives, and taking shelter in a safe environment is the smart thing to do. Unless you just want to be seen, standing on your roof, wearing your nightgown on the six o’clock news. Hey, some people do.

Writing Under The Influence

It’s real, but it’s hard to face the truth. It’s just too terrible. Others have more talent, more wit, more upgrades, but you don’t care. The first time you experience the bloggers high, you’re overtaken by obsession. After that, nothing else matters. Not food, not sleep, life before the blog becomes a distant memory. That’s when it happens. The gateway opens; you step through and let the good times roll. At first it’s just coffee, but before you know it, empty Red Bull cans and Pure Protein wrappers are scattered around the room. Your friends start to question if you are taking the whole blogging thing just a little too seriously. You persevere. You cannot allow their doubts to become your doubts. With your sights set on a single goal, you redouble your efforts and press on, with gusto!

Soon the giant bag of chocolate covered espresso beans left over from your Y2K survival bag is empty. This is an early warning sign. You ignore it and text your spouse to stop by Costco on their way home. The phone rings.

“What do you mean you don’t have time? It will only take a minute,” you say. “All we need are paper plates, coffee and some snacks. Hey, get those espresso beans you like.”

Your spouse says, “But I don’t like those beans.”

“Oh sure you do, why do you think we ran out of them so fast? Oh, and be a dear and pick up another case of Red Bull. Love ya, gotta go, I’m on a deadline.”

Then you think, dinner, damn it! You call Dominos and order two large pizzas with extra cheese. You hear yourself saying it, but it’s almost like someone else’s voice, “Tell the delivery guy there’s a ten spot in it for him if he’ll swing by the 7-Eleven and pick up a couple of 5 Hour Energy Shots; the berry flavor if they have it. Thanks.”

Hours go by. Your iTunes playlist hits 99 Luftballoons for the second time. It’s morning again, you can’t stop tapping the keyboard, but the words won’t come. Your steady diet of cheese pizza, protein bars and caffeine has finally caught up with you. You’re stuck; blocked. You’ve hit a plateau, but you can’t turn back now.

You convince yourself it’s for the best and you resort to the only thing left that will get you going and give you back your edge. You start small, cutting it with Vitamin water. Before long, you become dependent on a daily dose and you don’t even try to hide it. You leave a trail hoping someone will have the guts to take a stand and help you get the monkey off your back. But who? Your friends have given up trying to get you out of the house. Your family has learned not to disturb you when you’re “in the zone.” One day, after months of the vicious cycle, your loved ones confront you. “We know you’ve been juicing.”

In a statement to your readers you admit you have a problem. You didn’t want to let them down because you know how much they believe in you, but you’re not a machine. The most important thing now is to live to write another day. Things like this happen to pro athletes, sure. You never think it can happen to you.



Obviously I haven’t mastered the art of the reblog, as evidenced by my need to edit my post several times today. So, I will try again here, in the hopes that my meaning will be clear.

The first post I referred to is this http://acculturated.com/2012/08/23/the-regrettable-rise-of-omg/. I use OMG, a lot, to express shock at lame-ass, ridiculous, pathetic, hypocritical, stupid stuff all of the time. Am I a sinner? Uh yeah, that was pretty much drummed into my head my entire life until I decided just to roll with it. Am I taking the Lord’s Name in vain when I say omg? NO. I don’t believe I am, and if some smarty pants, goody-two shoes with a college degree in Metaphysical Theology believes I am, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

The post that everyone with a heartbeat needs to see is this http://swlothian.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/bully-trailer-this-is-sad-but-uplifting-at-the-same-time/.

My family has had some experience with this, and I believe with all my heart that we must do more to prevent these horrible tragedies. We should use our words, our actions, acronyms, emoticons, and guttural grunts, if that’s what it takes to get school boards to stop with the fake, half-ass attempts and REALLY do something about bullying. A parent should never have to worry that their child is going to be abused at school, after school, or on the way to and from school.

Feeling awkward, embarrassed and insecure is part of growing-up, we’ve all, and I do mean ALL, been there. Yeah, even the cool kids suffer anxiety about who they are and where they fit in. But OMG!!! A kid should not be physically assaulted or verbally bashed. Likewise, kids should not be told they are going to hell because they haven’t been baptized, like my son was told by some kids who were being raised by ignorant zealots. (teacher included) Kids should not believe that if they sit next to someone unpopular at lunch, they are going to get VD, like I was told by some stupid idiots. When a teacher hears that kind of stuff, and believe me they do, THAT is the teachable moment; not after a kid has killed themselves.

Piling everyone into the gym for a good old-fashioned “talkin’ to” is a worthless waste of 5th period. A no tolerance policy is just another rule begging to be broken, mocked or worse, misinterpreted to the point that it becomes useless. Wise words should be on the tip of every teacher’s tongue, every single moment of every single school day. The root cause of bullying is not something that can be explained by some “boys will be boys” bullshit. Girls do it too, and that isn’t something that just started. There were mean girls wearing designer pterodactyl teeth necklaces.

I’m sure of it.


This morning I was cruising through Freshly Pressed, and this post http://acculturated.com/2012/08/23/the-regrettable-rise-of-omg/ made me say, “OMG! SERIOUSLY?” Yes, out loud.  I found it interesting that the author used teenage girls as the reference for all things trivial and banal. Teenage girls, and boys for that matter, emulate what they see and hear all around them as they try desperately to navigate the confusing messages they are getting from adults; people they are supposed to trust!

The author went on to quote Kipling, who I believe is one of the greatest writers of all times, saying…’Words–“the most powerful drug used by mankind,” according to Kipling–can change minds and alter behavior.’

Well, while that is true, an OMG at the top of my lungs is in order about the video posted by one of my favorite bloggers, that I have reblogged here. It should be Freshly Pressed as an outstanding example of just how true that Kipling quote really is. Watch it, and if it doesn’t move you and make you want to shout OMG at the top of your lungs, then I really don’t know what else to say.

I know, that comes as a shock, doesn’t it?

S.W. Lothian | Author

Every now and then I see something that is so amazing it just brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.  It makes me wonder how this world is the way it is.  How can people be the way they are?, and why do some feel they can treat others with contempt? I know there is plenty of good out there, but there’s plenty of bad too.

I have only seen this trailer, not the full movie, but it looks like something that everyone should see.  It’s heartbreaking, but I hope it’s the start of change.  This movie should be shown in schools, to teach the next generation about respect for others. I have absolutely no time for bullies (kids or adults) and there is never a valid excuse for bullying.  It’s cowardly and selfish. Kid bullies grow into adult bullies. That’s all I’ll say, I…

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