Friday, September 16, 2005

Count Your Blessings

Visage de la Paix -Picasso

Life is never boring at the Red Cross Office. The case management supervisor from Washington, DC left a couple of days ago and she asked me to take over her job. It’s not a hard job. I supervise between 30-50 volunteer caseworkers and review their finished casework before I send it to the headquarters. The management team lavishly praised me for putting together a system that gives an up to the minute report of number of cases processed. The FEMA guys want these numbers and they are relieved that they do not have to wait till the end of the day to get the report.


Somehow, I am glad I am out of the firing line. The face to face encounter with the hurricane victims was getting the best of me. I had to take a long break one day after an interview so I can hide and cry. I interviewed an 85 year old woman from New Orleans who was originally from Germany and has no living relatives that she knows of in the US or in Germany. Her neighbors took her with them to evacuate to our hometown when water started rising in their neighborhood. She said she watched her car float away from her garage. Her husband died last year and left her a home and a car.  They did not have any insurance on the home nor the car because they were on fixed income. I started getting teary eyed when she said, “I am 85 years old and I lost everything I have. I am too old to start all over again. Who would hire me at my age? Where am I going to live now?" I hugged her and reassured her that I will do everything in my power to help her. I processed her case and gave her some referral to other community services and gave her my name and contact number so I can help her further if the other agencies fail to assist her. I kept my dignity and did not bawl while she was there but I did a quick getaway to the restroom as soon as she left so I can cry. And cry, I did. 


On the lighter note, I would like to share my all time favorite poem. I stumbled in it when I was in highschool and it helped me form some of my present convictions. I also love the tittle. It sounds so exotic and mysterious.



Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.


jeanno43 said...

Oh that poor lady, it brought a lump to my throat.  No family, lost everything, how dreadful.  I hope she gets the help she needs.  I love that poem as well but have not seen it in a long time so thank you so much for posting.

ally123130585918 said...

It must be very rewarding - being able to help as you do.   I havn't seen that poem in a long time love the "You are a Child of the Universe" enjoyed reading it again..Ally

mom23nca said...

The poem is beautiful, I have heard parts of it but have never seen it as a whole.  
You are an angel to many of these people.

barbpinion said...

Working with the people who suffered from Hurricane Katrina would depress anybody, most certainly makes one appreciate one's blessings. The poem you posted is a favorite of mine too. Have a TERRIFIC day.

jtuwliens said...

You tell a heartbreaking story of the woman who lost everything.  How painful it must be to hear and see the destructive forces of nature playing out in people's lives.  I shed tears with you.
Beautiful poem!

alphawoman1 said...

As much as I would love to help these people, I could never do it. I would be crying and breaking down. You have a big heart and a wonderful attitude.

belfastcowboy75 said...

I admire you so much.

cneinhorn said...

you have my utmost respect and admiration.

derasta said...

You have the heart of an angel :)

delela1 said...

It takes a very special person to do the work you perform, day in and day out, amidst the stress and strain of an enormous disaster.

May you find the inner strength and spirit you need to continue your work.

Dona (who spent years donating her money, time and blood to the American Red Cross)

chatzeekay said...

Your a a  angel for those who need one ,, youa re making a diffrence great job, keep us posted.

boiseladie said...

I must "thank you" for what you do at the Red Cross.  I hope this 85 year old woman finds the help she needs to continue her life, and with your help, she's on that path.  There are so many victims of this storm, so many stories.  It's got to take it's toll on you, being in the midst of all  this.  I love the poem, thanks for sharing it with us.

my78novata said...

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;

I love this part of the poem

judithheartsong said...

a big hug in your direction! judi

flossiepumpkin said...


dotcomdiva831 said...


tillysweetchops said...

You're right, What a wonderful poem. So full of wisdom.

jouell3935 said...

Love the poem....
Words to live by

justaname4me2 said...

That story, of the 85 year old woman just breaks my heart. I can not even imagine. What you do, must be so incrediably hard. I fear my heart would come home broken to pieces every day. I hope someday, you give us good news about her. That poem is incrediable. I can see why you loved it.
Take care my friend and I admire the size of your heart and humanity.

my78novata said...

I bet the red cross is busy and I do love that peom its very peotic.

oceanmrc said...

I have come back to read this several times but I keep forgetting to thank you for posting it.  I had this on my wall in boarding school many eons ago and I have loved rereading it.