January 17, 2011

Grateful for...

[edit: So I wrote this yesterday...but forgot to post it...so just pretend its still Monday, okay?)

Hello all, happy Martin Luther King Jr. day.
A group of us worked with the Red Cross and Hope Worldwide (a faith-based organization connected to our church) to go door to door in East Liberty and give out information on fire safety. All we really did was put door-hangers on people's doors but it was still nice to be out in the community for a little while. One of the workers from the Red Cross was telling us a little bit about what he does and what the role of the Red Cross is in Pittsburgh. It made me think of all the disasters that have happened around the world this past year, especially the earthquakes in Haiti and Chili, and how grateful I am that I haven't had to go through something like that. Its so easy to take for granted that when I am out of food I can drive to the nearest grocery store and that when I am thirsty I can get clean water to drink and that when I am cold I can turn the heat up (er, well actually just put on another sweater since heat is expensive).

Our Red Cross friend, Mike, told us about how the Red Cross responded during the Johnstown Flood in 1889 which was one of the first major efforts made by the organization and its founder, Clara Barton. Here is a quote from Gertrude Quinn Slattery years after the flood (via Johnstown Flood Museum):

"While my thoughts were thus engaged, a large roof came floating toward me with about twenty people on it. I cried and called across the water to them to help me. This, of course they could not do. The roof was big, and they were all holding on for dear life, feeling every minute that they would be tossed to death. While I watched I kept praying, calling, and begging someone to save me. Then I saw a man come to the edge, the others holding him and talking excitedly. I could see they were trying to restrain him but he kept pulling to get away which he finally did, and plunged into the swirling waters and disappeared. Then his head appeared and I could see he was looking in my direction and I called, cried, and begged him to come to me. He kept going down and coming up, sometimes lost to my sight entirely, only to come up next time much closer to my raft. The water was now between fifteen and twenty feet deep."

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