So many of you have already given donations and offered your homes and everything else but you are wanting to know ways that you can help on a greater scale.
We have some ideas for you below:
Many of the refugees are now being moved out and relocated to other parts of the country where they will be in shelters managed by the Red Cross. If you will have a Red Cross shelter in your community, contact your local Red Cross to find out if you can volunteer. Once you are trained or processed and allowed access to the shelter you can look for families or adults that might need our community's assistance. If you don't find anyone in the shelter with autism, make sure that you leave contact information so that they can find you after your shift is completed.
Also, if you don't find a shelter with a person with autism, there will be plenty for you to do and your help is needed.
IF YOU FIND A FAMILY WITH AUTISM:
a) Ask if they have resources where they can go to live? Family in another state that can help them transition? Do they need help getting there with airplane tickets, bus tickets, etc?
b) If they don't have any resources available they have THREE options:
1) They may relocate from the shelter to the camp in Mississippi that Peg Pickering and her people have so graciously coordinated. Contact information to let them know that resource exists is on our site at www.unlockingautism.org.
2) They may relocate to another area of the country. We need to know the top three areas where they would like to go so we can see if we have host families in those cities.
3) They can find an apartment in the area where they have been staying and we will assist with the first month's rent and/or deposit as needed.
We will provide this to as many people as we can as long as we have the funds available.
ONCE A FAMILY IS SETTLED:
Leaders in your area will be getting in touch with you to let you know when a family has moved into your area. They will be organizing a pantry and basic home furnishings stocking party as needed. The families needs all vary. Keep in mind that we are all different shapes, different sizes and our kids all have different needs.
Order of priority:
Once these people have an address, we can help get things to them but finding them first is critical. Giving them an address is the next best thing we can all do.
We have a report from Dr. Jeanette Gallagher who volunteered as a Red Cross volunteer today in Houston. Dr. Gallagher is from Kenner, LA and is currently displaced herself but she volunteered to look for families in the shelters near her. She found two families. She reports that the conditions are nice and that for families with children with autism, they have provided partitions to give them as much privacy as possible. There are air mattresses and things are clean and organized.
Shifts change every 8 hours just like nursing shifts so if you drop off information at the start of one shift, it may or may not be there when the next shift takes over. If you have a fax from your home you can send it at the beginning of each shift or call to make sure they are aware that you are there as a resource to connect them back to their community.
Thanks for being patient as we move through this. We have never done this before and are doing our best to keep it all straight and figure out what needs to be done! Keep your ideas coming!!!!!
The Unlocking Autism Staff