KIKS Goes to Katrina's Aftermath
Project KIKS is now established in New Orleans.
Dear Paul Cheatham,
Katrina Kids and Babys Get New Shoes
Letter to the Editor:
On April 23, 2010, Project KIKS (a Kind Initiative for Kids Shoes) will depart for New Orleans to deliver 600 paris of new athletic shoes and socks to the forgotten children of post Hurricane Katrina. Shoes will be distributed by three church organizations, three non-profit organizations, an orphanage and one pre-school located in the 9th Ward, St Bernard's Parish and Algiers. The Director of Project KIKS and his son will be amongst the officials, celebrities and invited guests to witness and join the activites planned in conjuction with this distribution. I was flabbergasted when informed that Project KIKS may be awareded the Key to the City during our eleven day stay. The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina looms ahead of us on August 24, 2010. Our goal is to provide shoes and socks to as many neglected, abused homeless and orhpaned children as possible by this date. Special thanks to Linda Adams, Gordon Training International for her generous contribution. Please send your tax deductible donation to: AMVETS Post 101, Project KIKS, P.O. Box 61 Yountville, CA 94599, Vist our website:http://projectkiks.org. Call our hotline 707 227-2997.
"Charity begins at home, Lest we forget"
Paul Cheatham II
The Forgotten Kids of Post-Katrina New Orleans
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Was I back in Soweto, South Africa, or was I in the United States?
That was my reaction when I visited the lower 9th Ward and the Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans. Captain Rita Humphries had told me she thought she was in a third world country and didn't realize it, when she went to the AMVETS Convention in post-Katrina New Orleans. After I left the comfortable tourist surroundings of Uptown and the French Quarter, survivors of Katrina were still suffering from effects of a contaminated environment, the emotional horrors of the hurricane, a devastated infrastructure, inadequate medical care, dilapidated housing, non-existent public transportation, lack of stores and markets. They lack the very basics of life. The social fabric is torn; the residents still don't know the whereabouts of their loved ones and friends.
I have never seen the like in my 45 years as a child and family advocate, and I have visited, lived, and worked in 33 countries on five continents.
My fact-finding mission took me downtown to the industrial section of the 9th Ward, in Saint Bernard's Parish. My first referral for shoes and socks was an unemployed disabled veteran of the Afghani War, his wife, and his three barefoot and near-naked children living in a single room. All of them were ill with influenza, and the veteran had not worked since he returned from war. We distributed shoes and socks to them all.
My next referral was a family of four living in a hotel room post-Katrina since 2005--a deaf mother, and three children, who hadn't seen shoes and socks since they moved in. We distributed shoes and socks here as well.
These two cases are typical of the families we served. We ran out of shoes the very first morning, well before we ran out of needy children.
Little known to me, the word got out among the poor communities that a nonprofit organization was distributing shoes. The next I knew, Project KIKS was being presented with requests from six more organizations representing those needing shoes. These poor community organizations have an overwhelming caseload, but run with minimal funding. They serve a complete spectrum of the needy citizens of post-Katrina New Orleans as best they can.
So now we face the challenge. The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina looms ahead of us on August 24th, 2010. We want to shoe the children of those six agencies by then.
Donations of new athletic shoes and socks for toddlers, children, and teenagers are requested for distribution to orphaned, neglected, abused, and homeless young Americans. Please, mail donations to Project KIKS, c/o AMVETS Post Office Box 61, Yountville, CA 94599; our KIKS Hot Line is at 707.227.2997. All donations received are tax deductible.
Thank you for your support.
(A letter from a founder)
Two Saturdays ago, on the 19th of December, while helping AMVETS Post 101 run its weekly Bingo game to raise funds for its local charities, I spoke with Captain Rita Humphries, past Commander of the post. She told me of her experiences at the national AMVETS Convention in New Orleans in October. One of the features of her trip was a guided tour of the city.
Captain Humphries, compassionate soul that she is, could not even look me in the eye to describe the devastation that still exists in Ward 9 of New Orleans. It is devastation so utter as to leave the ward as damaged and deteriorated as any third world city. I doubt she has seen the like in her time on this planet.
That was when I realized that it was time to move on to a project that had to be placed on hold while I developed Project KIKS in Soweto, South Africa. I am going to New Orleans on February 16th on a ten-day mission to determine and document the need for children's shoes in post-Katrina New Orleans. In fact, I intend to tour the Gulf Coast east to Mississippi in my efforts.
There are still children without shoes for their feet. I am still dedicated to the cause of shoeing them. Funding for this mission will be out of my pocket and my bake sale revenues. Once again, as I did with Project KIKS South Africa, I am starting at point zero. This marks the genesis of Project KIKS Post-Katrina. Donations of new athletic shoes and socks for toddlers, children, and teenagers are requested for distribution to orphaned, neglected, abused, and homeless young Americans. Besides this website, there's also Project KIKS, c/o AMVETS Post Office Box 61, Yountville, CA 94599, and our KIKS Hot Line at 707.227.2997. All donations received are tax deductible.
Thank you for your continued support. We've delivered shoes all the way to South Africa, three times; now its time to take them to the aftermath of Katrina.
Paul Cheatham II
"God works in mysterious ways...."
(A letter from a volunteer)
When you are working on starting an international charity from nothing, unforeseen things happen. Like the following....
We had not foreseen that the February mission to the post-Katrina Gulf Coast would take Paul into New Orleans during Mardi Gras. We had dabbled with hotel prices, but settled nothing; now, it seemed apparent that finding a room would be almost impossible, and expensive to boot. It seemed the New Orleans mission had turned into a nightmare on us.
I fired up the computer and found the hotel we had queried previously. Paul got on his cell phone. Disaster! The latest price for the hotel room was three times the original rate!
Paul explained about Project KIKS and our mission to shoe barefoot children. We had not foreseen that Paul would be talking to the manager of the hotel. We had not foreseen that it was a family-run hotel instead belonging to a chain. And we had not foreseen that the manager would turn the price back to our original quote, bless her heart. Paul got his room after all. So, the nightmare turned back into a dream of what we could accomplish.
While making the hotel reservation, the manager mentioned, We have some Hurricane Katrina survivors living right here at the hotel. Paul asked for details, and was told, There's the handicapped woman with three children, and there's some military veterans with their children and grandchildren.... To cut to the chase, the people we need to serve are living right where Paul is staying. The manager has volunteered to be our onsite coordinator. We now have Project KIKS Post-Katrina as a result of a single phone call. Our first shoe distribution in New Orleans is arranged in advance of Paul's survey trip. Paul can distribute shoes on his first trip there. How could we have foreseen that?
Paul claims it is God's will. Personally, I am not foolish enough to argue against Divine Providence.
George J. Dorner, M.F.A.W.
Thanks for coming to New Orleans
Hello, darling, and staff,
We really enjoyed Paul here in New Orleans. He was a delight and a charm to have at the hotel and also in the neighborhoods. I know that he has follow up work to do; I hope he has retrieved all of the info on sources and research that he needs. I wish him a lot of luck in his efforts to continue to put shoes on the feet of the children less fortunate. He came and saw each family that he put these shoes together for, and they really appreciate him and are still talking about him. Thanks again, Paul and staff, we look forward to our next visit with Project KIKS.
Christine from midtown n.o. l.a.
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