The Spirit Of Giving
Over at Social Sense, my good friend Mustang recently pointed out how closely our nation's response to Hurricane Katrina approaches socialism. Certainly our government has a role in the relief and recovery of the Gulf area. But the fostering of government dependence by means of the distribution of unlimited and responsibility-free funds promotes an attitude of victimhood. Such an attitude played a part in the outcome of Hurricane Katrina. Worse, the victim mentality will hamper the efforts to restore the Gulf region to vitality.
Individuals should be helping their fellow Americans, and some are doing so in a personal, hands-on manner. One such individual is Roger Guyette of Manassas, Virginia. This man knows all too well what it's like to lose everything because, five years ago, a fire destroyed his home and everything in it. As is often the case, the Red Cross came to his assistance. Instead of merely accepting help and going on with his life, a month after the fire, Guyette became a volunteer for his local chapter of the Red Cross. He has worked many disasters in the past five years, included flooded areas and the Pentagon on 9/11.
Because Guyette feels a special empathy for those in the Gulf area, he takes a personal and selfless role in helping out. According to a front-page article in the September 19, 2005 edition of the Washington Post,
"Roger Guyette knows the frustration and fear of losing everything. Five years ago, fire swept through his Manassas home, leaving him with nothing until the local Red Cross stepped in to help.Guyette himself hasn't had an easy life. His parents abandoned him when he was a child, so he was reared in a foster home. At the age of eighteen, he had to assume responsibility for himself, without the help most young people receive. But he hasn't allowed victimhood to dominate his life. Instead, Guyette puts his hands to work:
"Which is why day after day -- drooping with exhaustion and an aching back -- Guyette has stayed at the window of a Red Cross truck, dishing out beef brisket, applesauce and vegetables to worn hurricane victims amid the floodwater and debris of this Katrina-lashed bayou country.
"Just 48 hours after the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Guyette began ladling out food. Since then, he has offered sustenance and comforting words to thousands of traumatized, angry survivors. He has lost count of the meals, of the people, of the days. But he knows the devastation they face.
"'There's not a whole lot they can do,' he said. 'They're here. They have to reorganize their whole lives. It's tough on everybody.'
"Guyette, 46, is a quiet foot soldier in this disaster -- one of tens of thousands from across the country who have descended on the shattered Gulf Coast to help the hundreds of thousands affected by it...."
"Guyette and a fellow volunteer, telephone company retiree Gary Rogers, drove the Manassas chapter's emergency disaster vehicle 1,400 miles to Little Rock -- a Red Cross staging area -- arriving Monday, Aug. 29, just as Katrina was departing. From there, they were ordered to Alexandria, La., 140 miles northwest of New Orleans, where evacuees from the city were headed.Some of the people whom Guyette is helping are not openly grateful for the assistance:
"By then the situation was going from bad to hellish. Levees had broken in New Orleans, and by Tuesday night, thousands of people were pouring into Alexandria. The city opened its convention center and other public facilities.
"Day after backbreaking day, Guyette and Rogers loaded hot food in insulated chests into their Red Cross vehicle and dished it out at shelters and churches. As evacuees in Alexandria moved on, the volunteers headed south.
"By the time they reached this bayou country town early last week, Guyette had lost his cell phone as well as Rogers, who had gone home ill.
"Guyette's eyes are red-rimmed with fatigue. He aches from too many days of hefting heavy food chests and too many nights of folding his 6-foot-1 frame onto narrow cots in damp church basements.
"Nevertheless, he has extended his stay beyond the usual three-week Red Cross rotation."
"Sylvia Targo, 53, strode over. She had been washed out of her home in Metairie, west of New Orleans, and she was angry. She had been told to sign up for financial assistance by calling a number available at Red Cross headquarters. But once she'd arrived, she learned that the number was one she already had.Others, however, react differently:
"'I came over here, wasting gas, and they told me the same telephone number,' she told Guyette.
"'I know it's hard,' he said. 'We're all trying to help all we can.' He told her about the free meals at the site twice a day. Targo shook her head.
"'It'll cost me more than it's worth to drive all the way over here,' she snapped and got back into her car."
"At another stop along the railroad tracks, a woman stopped her car and ran over to the truck. She lived in St. Bernard Parish, an area east of New Orleans that was largely ruined by the storm. She said she couldn't reach the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross on the telephone and wanted to know if there was anything more she could do. Guyette told her to keep trying and offered her food. She shook her head.Individuals, both relief volunteers and devastated residents, should play a role in the relief and recovery efforts. We need more volunteers such as Roger Guyette. And we also need more Gulf residents to accept only what they need for the moment. Sadly, we are already hearing of the misuse of some who have received taxpayers' dollars in the form of FEMA funds--the purchase of Louis Vuitton bags, lap dances, and breast implants. Now is not the time for such waste!
"'I'm not starving yet. I still got a few dollars,' she said with a laugh." Guyette works on, expressing only his empathy: "'I've been right there, too,' he had said earlier. 'Everything gone -- everything except what's in your car and in your pockets.'"
Roger Guyette is promoting and playing an active part in a faster and a more effective recovery for the devastated Gulf region. His mission is a laudable one. He personifies the spirit of giving--the spirit of personal giving, an ideal which socialism destroys.