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The Monthly Memo
October, 2005


Congratulations to Nancy Wilkison who has been hired to serve as our Grants Specialist for the Academic Excellence Scholarship! Nancy has worked at HEAB for the last several years as an Office Assistant, and most of you know her through her work with refunds, vouchers, answering the phones, etc. From now on, all questions regarding AES can be directed to Nancy at 608.267.2213 or at nancy.wilkison@heab.state.wi.us.

Cassie Weisensel is working as a LTE in the position just vacated by Nancy. Please continue to send vouchers, refunds and the like to the general HEAB mailbox: HEABmail@heab.state.wi.us

Please check our Webpage under Information for Financial Aid Administrators for current Notification List and Voucher Processing Schedules.
Distributed after Noon October 5, 12, 19, 26
November 2, 16, 30
December 7, 14, 21

Tuesdays and Fridays: October 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28
November 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 29
December 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27

The AES notification list is now distributed through the SECURE HEAB or SSL site.
Distributed after Noon in SECURE HEAB
Every other Wednesday: October 12 and 26
November 9, 23
December 7, 21

"W" codes have been released through 8/16/05.
More will be released as funds become available!! THANKS


The deadline for returning the WISSIS Surveys is November 15.


Scheduled HEAB Board Meetings: October 14, 2005; February 10, 2006; April 21, 2006; July 21, 2006

Next HEAB Training Date: November 17, 2005

HEAB conducts one-day training programs for new and continuing financial aid administrators. The training session covers all aspects of the programs administered by HEAB, including:

The program begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends no later than 3:00 p.m. It is held at the HEAB offices at 131 W. Wilson St, Suite 902, Madison, WI. We have room for up to 6 people at each session. Please let us know if you are coming to training as materials are printed based on the number of people attending. To register for a session or for more information, please contact John Whitt at (608) 266-1665 or email him at john.whitt@heab.state.wi.us.


Questions or concerns? I truly appreciate your feedback. Please contact me by phone at (608) 264-6181 or by email at connie.hutchison@heab.state.wi.us.

Connie Hutchison
Executive Secretary



Subject: Alabama Here I Come

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues:

As most of you know, I have been a Red Cross Volunteer for over 12 years now.  Four years ago I was called to respond to assist the families who lost loved ones on September 11th. At that time I spent three weeks on the phone with families who were affected at the Twin Towers, Pennsylvania Plane Crash and the Pentagon.

Now, it is with pride and trepidation that I am packing for another three week calling.  This afternoon, I am heading to Montgomery, Alabama.  I don't yet know if that is where I will be staying; or if from there I will be deployed to another location.  Current volunteers are sometimes being moved up to three times, depending on where the needs are.

At this point I don't have much information.  I know that I will be doing Client Services.  This will allow me to disperse the funds that so many have graciously donated.  I will see that donations get to the right people in the right way.  I'm sure that I will hear many stories and see more than I can imagine.

Already three dedicated volunteers from my West Bend Area Red Cross Chapter have donated their time to help the families affected.  They will return after I leave, so I won't be able to hear their experiences until I return.

Here are a few facts:  In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the Red Cross has opened 902 shelters, provided 2,287,098 overnight stays in these shelters and served over 11 million meals.  My upcoming work will be a drop in the bucket compared with all that has already been accomplished.  However, I believe that my work will have an important impact on those that I will serve.

As I learned after 9/11 FLEXIBILITY is the key to being a successful volunteer.  I've been provided with quite a bit of information in order to be prepared.  I've reviewed the current on-line orientation and signed forms indicated that I know what will be expected.  We've been told that we must understand that these are extreme hardship conditions on this relief operation and must be prepared to personally care for ourselves.  There is, and will be , NO electricity (no hair dryer, no curling iron), thus NO air conditioning, no potable water, very limited cell phone coverage, and no hard line coverage.  If lucky enough to be in a hotel, I must be able to carry all my gear, as elevators may not work.  Due to these conditions, very few stores and restaurants are open and those that are, have not been re-supplied.  We must avoid becoming victims due to lack of preparation.

Here is an abbreviated list of what I must pack:
Flashlight and batteries and extra batteries, Personal first aid kit, sturdy closed waterproof shoes (there are snakes, contaminated water, etc), personal food and snacks not requiring refrigeration, 1-2 day supply of water, insect repellent (with 30% Deet), sunscreen (at least 30 spf), bedding linens, towels and washcloths, over the counter medications to include anti-diarrhea, antacids, pain medication, and toilet paper (?).

Other recommended to do's:  Make sure tetanus shot is current (mine is), get a Hepatitis A vaccine - our school nurse gave me the first of three Hepatitis A/B vaccines, so now I am 70% protected.

With each disaster relief operation there are hardship codes provided.  My paperwork indicates hardships 1 through 13.  (After 9/11 there was one, C-9 Extreme Emotional Stress)  Here are the codes for this disaster 1) Water disruption, 2) power outage, 3) Limited food availability - I wonder how much weight I will lose, 4) Extreme heat/humidity, 6) housing shortages, 7) working conditions, 8) limited health care access, 9) Extreme emotional stress, 10) travel conditions, 11) transportation limitations, 12) Air Quality, 13) lifting limitations.
Hmmm - I wonder what code 5 is?  By notifying us of the hardships, we are able to be better prepared.

Packing - What a challenge:  I need to bring enough clothes; food and water to last a couple of days, my own personal hygiene items to last a month, my own sleeping accommodations, my own traveling medical and first aid supplies, and I have to be able to carry it all on my own.  I laid everything out on the dining room floor and eyed the suitcase.  I don't want the suitcase to be too big to handle, but I want it large enough to fit everything.  Looking at what I need to pack - and then at the suitcase - I definitely have a problem.  OK, add a second small bag and squish the sleeping bag in that one.  Pack the rest in the suitcase and sit on it to close it, than weigh it.  There is a 50 pound weight limit or you are charged more at the airport, which isn't as big a concern as being able to carry it.  Yes, it does have rollers, but I can't rely on always being able to roll it on even ground.  So, I end up with a 49 pound suitcase, an extra case with the sleeping bag and a couple bottles of water and a back pack to carry on the plane. As I pack, Craig said it seemed like I was packing for camping as a child and wanted to know if I had remembered to write my name on my underwear.  Wait - what about a pillow?  Hmm - this is definitely a problem.  My daily pillow is definitely too big.  How about the ones on the couch - still too big.  I got it - Jen designed and made me a small pillow for Christmas last year.  It is designed with heralding angels.  No, I don't want to get it ruined or lost, but it's a worthy cause and I can put a pillow case on it and squish it in somewhere. Done.

Back to review the info I was provided and the expectations - "Really, really, really prepare yourself for what to expect of your recruitment, travel and assignment.  We guarantee things often will not go as planned.  After all, it is a disaster - that's why you are needed.  Make sure you can be flexible with last-minute changes, travel plans, waits, chaos, and personal inconvenience - all will be present from your recruitment call to the end of your assignment.  Be prepared for it - be flexible, stay calm and be nice.  Expect the unexpected!"

As I leave, I ask that you remember all those who have lost so much.  Keep them and me in your prayers.  I thank my self-sufficient husband, 3 daughters, 3 sons-in-laws, and 7 grandkids for their wonderful support of my adventure.  I will miss all of you.  I thank those in the aid office at Marian College.  Without their wonderful professionalism, I wouldn't be able to take this three week vacation.

Feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested.  I suspect that I will not be able to provide regular updates like I did from Kinkos after 9/11.  I hope that I will be able to at least call home on occasion.  I will keep a journal and provide an update after I return.

Thank you all for your support!

From: McKinney, Debbie
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2005 4:29 PM
Subject: FW: Alabama Here I Come

Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues:  

I just spent 40 minutes typing an email to all of you, through my Marian Web Mail.  But when I went to paste in the addresses from a disk I brought, my email disappeared. So, I'm trying again by forwarding the email that I sent when I was leaving.  I hope that this works, because I'm now missing a concert at the church.

Day 1 - Monday 9/19/05
    I finish packing in the morning.  Then I went to lunch with Laura (my sister) to a deli in Mequon.  In the afternoon I went to Gloria and Lou's (my in-laws) who are keeping my car in their garage and driving me to the airport.  We were told to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight in case there are any problems.  We use a travel agency that is contracted with the Red Cross.  The flight is scheduled for 5:05 pm.  But it has been cancelled.  The new flight is at 6:30 with a change in Atlanta rather than Cincinnati.  I arrived in Montgomery, Alabama around 10:00 pm.  The whole flight from Atlanta is full of RC volunteers.  At the airport there are RC shuttle van drivers to take us to a motel.
    The Airport Motel (definitely 1 star maybe 1/2) provides two double beds a bathroom with shower and air conditioning.  It's more than I expected at this point.  I share the room with Darlene from California.  We spend some time chatting with a couple of others, also from California who don't know each other.  The room has sheets and towels that have been washed (I think).  But they are very stained.  We used our sleeping bags - just in case.  

Day 2 - Tuesday, 9/20/05
    In the morning we are ready for the shuttle at 7:15 am.  There were about 50 of us waiting.  We get to a local closed K Mart, that is being used as a deployment arena.
    We need to stop at various areas - Staffing to tell us what we need to do; Staff Health to make sure we are fit for duty; Logistics to let them know I don't have a rental car; Function Induction to get specific training about what I'll be doing; Orientation that provides general information.
    There is at least 1,000 people here - coming and going.  Lunch time - PB & J, crackers and water.
    We need to wait to be assigned to one of the many sites in four states.  People are getting impatient here and some are starting to whine about the delays.  Many of the volunteers do not have previous disaster experience.  They do not know that hurry up and wait is the Red Cross way.
    I finally find out that I'm being deployed to Laurel, Mississippi.  With about 30 others, we set out for the south in two caravans of four cars each.  Our group of 4 cars and 16 people stop for dinner at a mexican restaurant (very good) along the way.  After a 4 hour drive we arrive in Laurel Mississippi, Jones County.  At the 1st Trinity Presbyterian Church, built in the year 1900, I am welcomed to my home away from home.
    In the gym we all grab an available cot, pull out our sleeping bags and go to sleep.  It's been a long day of rushing and waiting.

Day 3 - Wednesday  9/21/05  

    After washing up and grabbing a breakfast of cereal and a banana, we have a staff meeting at 6:45 am in one of the church rooms.  The meeting is just an overview of do's and don'ts of being in a shelter in a church.  Do be polite and clean up after yourself, it's OK to drink if you are discreet, don't be a slob, etc.  We learn who is in charge here - who we sign out a car from, where to see a nurse or doctor,etc.
    At 7:00 I drive 3 others, in the car I was assigned yesterday, to the Magnolia Center about 10-15 minutes away.  This center is a state fair type arena with a dirt floor.  It is used for events like rodeos & tractor pulls.  There is a thick plastic tile flexible floor laid over the dirt.  It is a very large facility where RC volunteers can meet with clients who were affected by Hurricane Katrina.  We are servicing people from 4 counties (Jones, Jasper, Wayne and Smith).  26 tornados were spawned from the Hurricane and touched down in this county (Jones) alone.
    I volunteer to go with a group to Smith County about 1 hour away.  After getting there, I begin helping the clients who were affected.  My job is to provide the dollars that have been donated to the Red Cross.  We provide a specific dollar amount depending on the family size.
    Like after 9/11 I heard many, many stories.  Almost all families had at least roof damage along with destroyed porches, fences and out buildings.  Due to lengthy power outages almost all lost freezers and refrigerators full of food.  Many families "put-up" fruit, vegetables, etc and freeze them.  This is their winter supply of food and it is now gone.
    After talking to about 40 clients, the day in Smith County ends.
    We ride back to the Magnolia Center and depart for the Church.  We get back about 7:30 pm.  I still have the car and a couple of us go to Wal-Mart to get some essentials.  My hand is sore from writing all day (no computers), so I get some better pens with cushiony grips.  My butt is sore from sitting on a hard folding metal chair all day, so I also get a pillow to sit on.  This pillow will also work to sleep on at night.  Jen's pillow I brought along was a God Send last night.  But al little bit bigger one is a welcome luxury.  Lights out at 10:00 pm.

Day 4 - Thursday 9/22/05
    After breakfast and our 6:45 meeting we go back to the Magnolia Center.  Here we sign in so that the RC will know where we are for the day.  This is the main center for these 4 counties, but we also have smaller sites in each county.  We have served over 15,000 families so far and provided more than $27 million in assistance.
    It looks like I'll be assigned to Smith County for a while.  We're in a nice, but small multi- purpose center and see 400-500 families per day.  The clients must provide proof of residency and proof of how many and who are in the household.
    One woman tells me their house shifted off its foundation about 5 inches and the floor fell in.  Her 7 year old son tells excitedly about watching the floor cave in.  All people were OK.  They had a generator for their chicken farm and are living in one of the chicken buildings.  All the chickens are fine.  Lots of chicken farms here - and some lost their complete buildings and all the chickens.
    One of the brick houses we pass on the way to the Magnolia center has a huge tree right down the middle of it.  We see others like this everywhere we go.  Power has been restored, but the dead power lines are still laying along the sides of the roads as we take the highway to Smith County many of them are mingled with downed and cut up trees.
    There was little loss of life here so we are spared of hearing those terrible stories.  Although we do hear from families who are living here who escaped from the New Orleans area.
     At the end of the day we go back to Magnolia and then the church.

About the church - I haven't actually been in the church (sanctuary) yet, just the rest of the building.  It is a beautiful red brick building built in 1900.  I've seen great stained glass windows from the exterior and there is a castle-like turret.  I hear there is a rope pulled elevator going to the top.
    We have about 55 people in this staff shelter.  30 of us sleep in the gym on cots lined up in a row.  Their stairways are dark and it all reminds me of Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter books.
     The air conditioning blasts in the gym from HUGE ceiling duct work.  Many people are catching colds from being outside in the hot humid southern air and then being inside in the cold blasts.  The cold air isn't a complaint.  We are very happy to have electricity and air conditioning.

About the shower - You have to see it to believe it. It has an open air concept. It is located in a courtyard at ground level. There is an 8 foot two sided ladder with two hoses at the top for hot and cold water. The two hoses come together into one shower head.  The hoses are duct taped to the top of the ladder. You have to climb up two steps to turn the toggles on.  The water pressure is actually great and it makes for an interesting way to wash away the sweat from the day.  There is a wrought iron gate for a door that someone has put plastic over and added a shower curtain for privacy. There is a five-foot high brick wall on one side of this enclosure that anyone could look over.  No one does and it is just part of the adventure.  And yes, this is one shower for 55 people. The ladies room actually has 2 stalls and one sink and is right outside of our sleeping area. The men have to share one unisex bathroom.

    The food here has NOT been a hardship. In our dining and kitchen area, we have a full supply of breakfast cereals, eggs, etc with stuff for making sandwiches.  There are some restaurants within walking distance.  I had to turn the car in Tuesday night for others to share.
     In Smith County, the many local churches sign up for a day to bring in lunch.  We've had southern fried chicken, mashed potato salad, black eyed peas, spaghetti, and endless home baked desserts.  The coconut pie was scrumptious.  I had two pieces.  Some times at the church they leave us baked items.  The sweet potato pie was excellent.  The church provided pizza one night for dinner.
     In the mornings and evenings we tend to watch the news on the two TV's we have.  We're closely watching the approach of Hurricane Rita.  We also got to see that amazing landing by the pilot in Los Angeles.

Day 5 - Friday 9/23/05
     This day was much like the others.  At the end of the day we are told that everyone is meeting at 6:30 pm in the Magnolia Center to discuss the approaching Hurricane Rita.    At Magnolia, the entire center has dismantled all of the tables for doing the client case work that has been done here and is being turned into a shelter for evacuees that may be arriving from further south and west.

    Southern hospitality - It is all and more you've ever heard of.  The church and its 200 parishioners are very welcoming and gracious.  All of the clients are VERY appreciative of what we are doing here.  Many of the clients are brought to tears by the generosity of all the volunteers’ time and the funds donated by the public.  Many more are humbled by the need to accept the help that is being offered to them.   All of the locals are extremely friendly.
     At the Smith Center we have about 15 local volunteers who come in every day and all day to assist us.  Everyone is happy we are here.  Some volunteers have reported going to stores or to buy coffee and not having to pay for their purchases.  

Clint - A local African American volunteer (maybe age 50-60) at Smith who is off work on disability waiting for two hip replacements.  He has trouble sitting or going from standing to sitting.  But on his feet he is as dynamic as can be.  Sometimes the clients can wait several hours winding their way through the line sitting on metal folding chairs and moving from one chair to another.  He keeps their minds off the fact that it is a long and boring wait.  The clients come to our table in good spirits after the long wait.  He is a man of both grace and humor.  His daughter also helps us when she isn't at work.  

The Red Cross Volunteers - Ministers, Nurses, Doctors, Psychologists, attorney's, bank president, photographer, accountants, medicare fraud worker, white, black, latino, young, old, from California, Alaska, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over 500 of us collected to help the south.  

Prisoners - At the Smith Center there are a few county jail prisoners who maintain the facility.  They clean, haul garbage, fix overworked toilets - all in their orange pants and T shirts.  They earn $20 a day to pay off their fines, for misdemeanor offenses, that they can't afford to pay.  

The military - At all the centers we have Army and Air Force local national guard units for crowd control, along with local police.  Although with Clint's lively entertainment, there is little need at Smith for crowd control, but, other centers have reported some problems.
     Today worked from 7 am to 8 pm.  We've got some rain from the front edge of Hurricane Rita.

Day 6 - Saturday 9/24/05      Happy birthday to me...
     At our 6:45 am meeting I get a round of applause for turning 51 today.
     At the Magnolia Center about 15 people arrived to use the shelter over night.
     We have had wind and some rain from being on the edge of Hurricane Rita both today and yesterday.  We'll have sunny skies one minute and a downpour the next.
     At the Smith Center everyone sings happy birthday to me.  In the afternoon we have tornado warnings to the west.  Sitings about 8 miles away.  We have to move people from the glass windowed lobby to the interior.  The local sheriff comes to make sure we are safe.
     We end the day early at 4:00.
     From the church a few of us go to Walmart for more essentials.  I got a sweatshirt for sleeping in the cold blasting air, a foam pad for under my sleeping bag for more comfort on the cot and Dayquil and Nyquil for the cold I am getting.  We stopped at a local Deli for Dinner - Great!
     Back at the Church another group returns from a Walmart treck with a Birthday cake that says "happy Birthday Debbie" We’ve become quite a family here.
     I did call home earlier in the week to let Craig know where I am and that I am OK.  Each night I've checked my cell phone for messages.  None until tonight.
     I've got 6 messages:
1 - From Monday (wonder where its been till now) telling me that my flight here has been cancelled.  From BTI, the Red Cross travel agency.
2 - Monday 2:05 pm from world travel/Delta saying my flight here was cancelled - Better late than never.
3 - From Kyley - She's another RC volunteer.
4 - From Craig singing me happy birthday (made me cry).  He also said the closing on our home and hunting land near Mauston went well.  and then he got cut off.
5 - From Craig finishing his call and saying we get to keep the living room furniture and one bed for the new house and sending his love.
6 - From my brother's -in-law singing happy birthday
"Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday dear Debbie, Hope all is well with you."  I loved it!

In the evening we watched the news about Rita.  I hope all is well and my prayers are with family we have near ground zero of Hurricane Rita.

I'll try to write again.

Love to all,

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