Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bucks Mont Katrina Project - PA

You may send a check payable to
The Salvation Army to:
Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Fund
PO Box 1542
Doylestown, PA 18901

When attorney Maureen Gatto, now volunteer project coordinator for Bucks Mont Katrina Relief, left her home in Pennsylvania last August for a two year stint in Hancock County, she knew the work here would be totally absorbing. So she asked a few little things of her family."I told my husband please don't let the house foreclose, my sons to put off any grandchildren, and my mother to stay healthy," Gatto laughed. "My practice of course couldn't wait two years, so someone is handling that."Gatto is just one of hundreds of volunteers from the Pennsylvania counties of Bucks and Montgomery who just can't seem to do enough to help Hancock County get back on its feet. The two counties are bordered by the city of Philadelphia in Southeastern Pennsylvania.The group sponsors around 15 programs in the county, some ongoing, some just getting started, and others nearing completion. On Tuesday the group will co-host an all day bash of groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings and opening celebrations for projects organized by the group from the ground up.

Child care center dedication scheduled for March 13, 2007
The Hancock County Child Development Center building dedication is now scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 11 a.m. in Bay St. Louis, Miss. If the dedication ceremony is anything like the ground-breaking event held in April 2006, be prepared for an emotional and joyous occastion. The child development center is a gift from the Bucks Mont Katrina Relief Project to Hancock County, Miss., and will accommodate 124 children. The March 13 ceremony will include a ribbon joining (no ribbon-cutting -- we're joining our efforts with the gracious people of Hancock County), music, reception, tours and treats.
Welcome to the Bucks Mont Katrina Relief ProjectThe Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia is a key partner in the Bucks Mont Katrina Relief Project, providing guidance and non-profit status to our fundraising efforts.
In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Calvary Church, Souderton, PA, has made a two-year commitment to aid relief efforts in the Gulf Coast:
Katrina Logistics
NARI Trip, February 07 -- Residential -- Start Date: 2/11/2007
Based out of: Doylestown, PA Contact: Laurie Baker
Description: Skilled, "lightly skilled," and non skilled volunteers will be doing finishing work on several residential homes. For further information, please contact Marnie McAleer, at 215-654-0364, or
Child care center dedication scheduled for March 13, 2007
The Hancock County Child Development Center building dedication is now scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 11 a.m. in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
If the dedication ceremony is anything like the ground-breaking event held in April 2006, be prepared for an emotional and joyous occastion.The child development center is a gift from the Bucks Mont Katrina Relief Project to Hancock County, Miss., and will accommodate 124 children.
The March 13 ceremony will include a ribbon joining (no ribbon-cutting -- we're joining our efforts with the gracious people of Hancock County), music, reception, tours and treats.
The group's cornerstone project is a new 10,000-square-foot day-care center, the first public building constructed in Hancock County post-Katrina, which will be dedicated on March 13. Much of the $1.25 million cost of the day-care center is been offset by donated labor, materials and supplies from Bucks and Montgomery County residents and businesses.
The group is also helping to build a 5,266-square-foot animal rescue facility to serve an estimated 60 cats and 20 dogs, who like their human counterparts, were also made homeless by Katrina.
Organizers have started a program dubbed Adopt-a-Family, which for $20,000 and volunteer labor, is rebuilding 900-square-foot homes and furnishing them. So far eight houses have been completed and over the next two years organizers are hoping to build 30 to 35 homes, but need to raise $600,000 to $700,000 to do it.
Salvation Army honors Bucks Mont Katrina Relief Project with "Others Award"
Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, the national commander of The Salvation Army USA, was the featured speaker at The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia Annual Luncheon. Making his first trip to Philadelphia, Commissioner Gaither inspired and challenged the more than 400 guests gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue.
During the presentation of the Others Award to the leaders of the Bucks-Mont Katrina Relief Project, the recipients were astonished when two officials from Hancock County, Mississippi - the community adopted by the project - walked onto the platform and participated in the presentation.
Emceed by WPVI-TV anchor Tamala Edwards, the luncheon also featured the presentation of the inaugural Doing the Most Good Community Leadership Awards to Erik Kolar and Michael O'Neill. After Captain Margaret Davis opened the event with a rousing vocal rendition of O Beautiful, Rev. Marguerite E, Handy gave the invocation. The benediction was pronounced by the Rev. W. Matthew Reed, from the Calvary Church of Souderton.
12/3 Adopt a Family Project

As residents of Bucks and Montgomery Counties, we're involved in several relief projects at once. See below.

Adopt a Family Restoring Families. Rebuilding our Neighbors’ Homes. BMKRP in conjunction with City Team Ministries and National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) has identified families in Hancock County who have fallen through the cracks and are receiving little or no help from government programs or from their insurance providers. Their homes are uninhabitable.
And they need help! There is an organization of builders, contractors, and re-modelers in our community which is part of a national association known as NARI. They have volunteered to send groups down to Hancock County, Mississippi, to rebuild homes. Our field workers in Mississippi have identified those families most in need of assistance and are methodically verifying their situations.
For each identified family, approximately $20,000 is needed for supplies to rebuild their home. NARI will donate the professional labor. With family, funding, and NARI in place, our field workers complete a detailed assessment of the rebuilding project. Then they coordinate getting the necessary materials and supplies to the jobsite for the NARI team’s arrival.
Being able to make these purchases locally supports the local economy and creates jobs. Our field workers will provide living and eating arrangements for the NARI volunteers, so all they need to do is show up with tools in hand! With the project surveyed, the materials on site, and a team of professional builders, a family’s home can be rebuilt in just one week!
Here is how your Church can help.
1. Rebuild a family’s home by contributing all or a portion of the needed $20,000. This is a great opportunity to partner with local churches in your denomination or community.
2. Help restore the family by becoming the family’s support team:
· Pray for them
· Send a team to support the family and workers while building is in progress.
· Write letters of encouragement
· Get to know the family - send birthday cards e.g.
· Help them celebrate Christmas and other holidays
· Help them with all the “things” that need to go into a home after it’s rebuilt. · Identify their personal needs, i.e. baseball gloves, bikes, laptops, etc.
· Become their friends.
· Walk along side the family in their time of great need.
These are just a few of many possible ways to support our brothers and sisters on the Gulf Coast as they continue the struggle of rebuilding and restoring. Hurricane Katrina has taught us that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
Please help rebuild their homes and restore their families. Many hands can lift a heavy load. Together, we can lift up the community of Hancock County, MS. Please join us.
Contact info:
Rev. Wayne Lynch, Religious Organizations Task Force Committee Chair 267-987-4258
(C) Rev. Matt Reed, Religious Organizations Task Force Trip Coordinator
(O) Mary Lee Reiff, Religious Organizations Task Force Secretary 215-348-9293
(H) Rich Timmons, Adopt a Family Coordinator 215-340-9090 ext 111 (O)
Thanks SOOO much for everything!
Words can't express my utmost gratitude and appreciation for the trip and your help with our community. Through all of the heartache, we have been blessed to have met so many wonderful people that have truly touched our hearts.
As we drove home today along the beach I told my husband that it really is different when you are away from this area and you get back home to see the devastation again is just unbelievable.
It was so great to get away for a few days.
Thanks again for everything and please know that you ALL are welcome to stay with us anytime!
With much love,

Day Care Center Wish List, June 2006 Dear friends: Here are items and services we will need to finish the job of building a new day care center for our friends in Hancock County:

Masons to join Thompson team Fulfilled Money for masonry materials $15,000
Carpenters to install doors, windows, folding partitions and accessories (Perea Team)
Plastic laminate counters for lay-in sinks $10,000
Metal building insulation (approximately 10,500 S.F. 6”) donated EIFS or stucco contractor for a small job $10,000
Caulking Contractor $2,500
Waterproofing contractor $3,500
Exterior Windows $35,000
Interior glazing $5,000
Painting contractors (we have the paint) $6,000
VCT about 8500 S.F. donated
Cove Base about 2600 linear feet donated
Bath accessories $2,000
Toilet partitions $2,500
Folding Partitions $20,000
Wall guards $5,000
Ground mounted flag pole $3,500
York HVAC equipment, 4 and 5 ton split systems $20,000
Electrical fixtures, etc. $30,000


Happy 4th to all of you!

I just returned from the airport and thought it best to capture the moment. Before I begin, I want to congratulate Collette McBratney for the outstanding interview she gave this morning on WXTU about the Bucks Mont Katrina Project. I set the clock so I would not miss it. It was superb!! Thanks Collette on behalf of all of us involved in the project and especially the education committee.

It has been a very special week. Natalie and Tuck Skinner and their two daughters Kamden age 4 and Keeley age 2 arrived from Bay St. Louis. Natalie teaches Dance and has a state championship team. In addition, Gina and Troy Pepperman and their 2 year old son, John David, arrived the same day. Gina teaches computers at the middle school.

So I don't forget to tell you Gina's 8th grade students worked on a special project. Pearson publishers gave them a seminar on how to write a book. The students then took pictures and wrote all about Katrina. Pearson is publishing it as a coffee table book and it is due out in August. It is the school's way of trying to raise funds to help them get back on their feet. I told them to let me know when it is ready and we will see that they sell. They will be on the market through bookstores also. I also have a video made by the children that might help us get a benefit started this Fall. They need school equipment!!!

The week was packed. They arrived the night of June 27. Christine Yardley and her husband hosted the Skinner family in their home and the Byers hosted the Pepperman family in their guest house. Carol Boyd, the educational partner to Gina Pepperman, took the family under her wing when the Byers had to leave to go out of town. The welcome extended to each family by the Yardley's, Byers, the Boyds and Shelley Rosen exceeds the definition of hospitality. (I was in 2 days of workshops in King of Prussia).

The next morning each family picked up their donated rental cars. The family of Anne Biggs, Katrina Relief Project member, paid for the car rentals ( approximately $250). Each family was then given $100 cash donated by Christine Yardley's parents ($200 total) to pay for their gas and tolls for the duration of their stay.

Immediately after they received their cars, Natalie and Gina went to David Witchell's Spa in Newtown for a "Day of Beauty." The day included manicures, pedicures, facials, hair styling, and massages. The package was $300 per person if purchased and David donated both of them for a total of $600.

While in Newtown, Guy Mitchell provided lunch at the Temperance House to Natalie and Gina as well as two hosts. at no cost. They almost missed it due to a communication mix-up, but all worked out in the end.

While the ladies were getting beautiful, Christine Yardley took the Dads and kids, along with her own children, to the Philadelphia Zoo. The Dads enjoyed it as much as the kids.

The evening of the 27th, Christine Yardley and Shelley Rosen babysat so the two couples could have a romantic dinner for two and a movie afterward. Both the dinner and theater tickets were donated in the Quakertown area.

On the 28th, both families headed to Hershey. They linked up with people from Pittsburgh who also helped them from Waynesboro College. The weather was good and so was their day.

On the 29th, they enjoyed a day at Sesame Place which included Dinner with the characters. I think it is debatable who enjoyed it more...parents or children :o) In addition to the special dinner, Elmo had a warm greeting for the children!

On the 30th, the day began with a visit to Byers Choice escorted by Carol Boyd. Bob and Joyce Byers wanted Gina and Natalie to have a special gift to take home to remember their stay in Bucks County. They were thrilled and very appreciative.

Then it was my turn. I gathered up the families and along with Christine Yardley we headed to Philly. The parents had 2 requests the historical area and Geno' s steaks. We saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and Betsy Ross' house. We saw where Ben is buried but time escaped too quickly. We also checked out a Taste of Philly, while saving the biggest part of our appetites for South Philly. Tuck and Natalie saw a segment on the Food Channel and wanted to see Geno's for themselves. I assure you when we got there it was more than just "seeing." In fact the guys ate one from Geno's and one from Pat's to compare. To add to the ambience a bride and groom arrived and ate one right there on the sidewalk just like everyone else. Tuck purchased his Geno tee shirt to make the memories last longer.

We ended the day with a car tour of Philly showing them the Art Museum, Boat House Row, the theater area, the sports complex, the museum area, and South Street. We circled City Hall several times for pictures of Billy Penn. Christine Yardley and I were the drivers.

In addition to the people already mentioned I owe a very special thanks to some wonderful people who helped me make the week what it was.

Let me begin with Mark Schweiker, President of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and his secretary Chris, who helped me network with the Franklin Institute and Hershey Park.

I will also be writing a thank you note Dr. Windt, CEO of the Franklin Institute who not only provided 27 complimentary museum passes, but matched the same in complimentary IMAX tickets, flight simulator tickets, and sky ride tickets. They will be used for the group arriving on July 16 as well.

Next, I will be thanking Mr. S. J. Newkam, CEO of Hershey Park and Mr. Bill Simpson, Director of Entertainment for 27 complimentary passes to Hershey Park.

Another special thanks goes to Jennifer Walkenbach, Director of Human Resources at Sesame Place, who made arrangements for 14 complimentary admission tickets and 14 dinners with the characters.

The Philadelphia Zoo admissions were also complimentary.

We listened to many stories over the past few days of recovery. While recovery has begun, the emotional devastation is still apparent. While at Byers Choice, Natalie asked Carol to take her to the Employee Wall of Fame so she could see the picture of the woman who made Christmas for her family. Even the men showed tears during some of the stories I heard.

As we approached the Delta drop off at the airport, my daughter Erin, a Guidance Counselor at William Tennent High school, told them not to get out since she had something she wanted to share with Gina and Troy. Natalie and Tuck went to the airport with Christine. At that Erin told them that she prepared something that would assure them that we were with them even in the distance. At that Erin played Faith Hill's, Mississippi Girl, and Erin's Mom cried as she hugged them and said good bye.

We now get ready for the next group arriving on July 16. To provide the same for the next group, your donations would be greatly appreciated.

Best wishes!

We want to--
· Optimize web site
· Ensure Child Development Center moves from groundbreaking to ribbon cutting!
· Maximize marketing and fundraising related to magnetic ribbon design.
· Review landscape site plan and offer as sponsorship opportunities.
· Schedule onsite visits as needed. Identify need for teams to help with rebuilding.
· Reinforce partnership with The Salvation Army.
· Partner with Fred Beans Family of Dealerships on the Daycare Center Furnishings Project. Raised from generous employees is $76,085.
· Cultivate additional community and media relationships.
· Promote and provide Animal Shelter building plan.
· Review possible site and plan for a city park.
· Produce a PR/Marketing DVD.
· Educate, inform, and communicate with existing and new project supporters.
· Maintain communication/contact with key MS contacts.
· Determine best way to promote National Model.
· Revisit each sub-team, goals, and momentum plans.

Educator to Educator Partnership Program
In response to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, community leaders in the Bucks/Montgomery County, PA region formed the Katrina Relief Project. The communities of Bay St. Louis/Waveland, Hancock County, Mississippi were adopted to become the focus of volunteer efforts. This relief project is successfully offering direct assistance and financial support to our neighbors in Mississippi since its inception.

As the education branch of this project, we'd like to invite you to join with us in our effort to forge one-on-one relationships with the educators in our adopted communities. We can connect to other educators as no others can. We are looking for interested teachers, principals, and other educators, either active or retired, who are interested in being partnered with an educator from our target area.

Partnering ideas may include, but are not limited to:
· Ongoing e-mail or phone contact
· Sharing lessons, books, poems, instructional materials, comfort items, manipulatives
· Class to class contact
· Establish Pen-Pal Relationship
· Service learning opportunities Orientation sessions are planned to assist volunteers in this effort.

Educator to Educator Program in Need of Middle School Teachers
In addition, the Educator to Educator is picking up momentum. We need middle school teachers to help. We also need high school special education teachers. The two K-3 buildings are in fairly good shape with partners. Heckman Elementary School, in Neshaminy School District adopted Waveland Elementary. Individual teachers adopted the other school, teacher by teacher.

The high school librarians county wide adopted the librarian at Bay High and provided all of the special requests she had between them all. The PTO at Sol Feinstein Elem. School, in Council Rock, heard about the endeavors of the librarians and sent me a check for $1,000 for educational needs.

We paid for the new Bay High Volleyball uniforms in the amount of $2250. Peddler's Village gave me a donation of $1650. The Southeast Regional Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance teachers gave me $500 and the Bucks County Technical High School students gave $100.

We held two orientation meetings and I will be contacting them via email to give added support to the volunteers.

We need middle school teachers. We still have 14 middle level teachers without partners. Word of mouth is slow.

Apply now!
GROUP or INDIVIDUAL (circle one)
Your Name(s): K-3__ 4-5__ 6-8__ 9-12__

Email Address:
Name of School/School District:
In Bucks/Montgomery County PA submit to:
Dean Roberts,
4 Stefwalt Road
Hatboro, PA 19040

Questions: Please contact Connie Rinker 215-852-4439 or email:

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