First Day in Louisiana by Brianna

Brianna Pastewski has written about her first day for us all to share in her experience.  This is by no means a requirement for CLSs who deploy!  But we are so grateful that she is letting us all get a peak into this with her and grateful for the opportunity for the child life community to show her our support as she provides care to these children and families.

In her own words….

Hi everyone! I’m a CCLS from Michigan and completed the Children’s Disaster Services training in Cincinnati, OH back in October 2015. Almost a year later, I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to deploy with CDS to Baton Rouge, LA to provide support to the children and families affected by the recent floods.

Deployment day consisted of flights, logistics, and unknowns. I met up with 8 other CDS certified volunteers at the Baton Rouge airport. From there, we made our way to The American Red Cross (ARC) headquarters. We got a little turned around and took a minor detour, finding ourselves in a neighborhood with giant piles of garbage on the streets. It was heartbreaking. Beds. TVs. Furniture. Flooring. Family heirlooms. Memories. Soaking wet, probably covered in mold, ruined and set out for garbage. This was our first look at some of the losses that this neighborhood has experienced.

Once we got back on track, we met with our CDS Project Manager at Headquarters, who had been working tirelessly all day to figure out our lodging and work assignments. With many staff shelters full, finding a place for all of the staff volunteers to sleep has been a challenge.

Before leaving, I learned that this would be a ‘hardship assignment,’ where lodging is limited and staff should prepare to sleep in staff shelters, on cots. Nervous about what to expect, but pumping myself up for a fun camp experience, I did not quite anticipate what I saw when I walked through the church shelter doors.

This is one of many staff shelters/housing…I don’t think we were expecting to get quite this cozy with our neighbors. However, it does put everything into perspective and it is pretty amazing when I think about the various backgrounds that these people come from and their unique roles…all here to help bring relief and support to the people affected by the floods. Truly incredible! (Even if it made for a challenging night sleep, ha!)

While we still do not know where we will be setting up and working tomorrow, we are all going to bed, excited to start working/playing with the kids!



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