Friday, November 17, 2006

What services do you provide?


I’ve had a number of people ask me that in the few weeks that I’ve been down here in The Pass. I know what they are asking; do you clear debris, do you build houses, do you provide loans?

When a middle age woman wanders in to our office to ask for help removing stumps in order to begin rebuilding, she stays for a good twenty minutes regaling us with tales of how she can’t get money from FEMA because she had to stay in Tennessee to care for her mother, who has recently passed away. She most certainly needs help with those stumps, but it seems that today, she also needed someone to listen. After she leaves the office I begin returning phone calls. I silently hope that the Smith’s phone will go unanswered; its so much easier to tell the answering machine that we are unable to help them; I dread having to tell a real person. When the phone is indeed answered, I take a deep breath and begin to explain that because the trees are not directly threatening their trailer, we cannot remove them until we gotten through the pile of work orders that are threatening trailers. I’m interrupted and informed that it is fine. More than anything, the family just appreciated the call. Now that they know, they can look elsewhere for help. For many, one of the worst parts of this last year has been the feeling of being jerked around, of countless beauracratic nightmares.

When people ask, I tell them about the concrete services that we provide. But the truth is that I often think that the most useful service we provide is as a small nonprofit that connects with individuals.

No comments: