While the fortunes of many over the past few months have been returned to some sense of a “New Normal” since the unspeakable tragedies, much work remains to be accomplished.
The short- and long-term impact has been just as significant on community organizations.
One such group is Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland Inc. whose core crews and volunteers have redirected much of their focus in 2011 in order to help rebuild homes, restore lives and reinvigorate a belief that times will get better.
Led by Executive Director Matt Carlson and a community-minded staff of professionals, as well as a legion of dedicated volunteers, Habitat has continued its invaluable outreach to new homeowners while also taking lead roles in the personal recoveries of many Bradley County families whose homes were heavily damaged. Too, Habitat currently is rebuilding two flattened homes, and will erect at least three more through the Cleveland/Bradley Disaster Relief Fund and the Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization.
Other groups remain just as involved. Most notably, the Hiwassee Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Cleveland affiliate of the Salvation Army continue to provide unique assistance to families still in the middle of their storm recoveries.
And what of our splendid civic clubs? Most have channeled proceeds — in part or in full — from traditional fundraisers to disaster recovery. Just a few that come to mind are Cleveland Rotary Club, Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club, Cleveland Kiwanis Club and the Cleveland Lions Club, among others. Many more clubs and nonprofit agencies have sponsored fundraisers specifically for disaster relief. Their numbers are far too great for us to attempt an individual mention.
Another organization whose volunteers are making a difference is one that doesn’t automatically come to mind in storm recovery. Yet this fine group has been there for Cleveland and Bradley County every step of the way since April, and long before.
We refer to Keep America Beautiful, an organization that has risen to the challenge by working in cooperation with other groups in 92 events involving 13,513 volunteers. KAB has committed to continuing its work until our hometown’s recovery is complete. Until then, KAB will still be among the counted in providing equipment, water, work gloves and perhaps most importantly, volunteers.
At KAB’s recent Awards Breakfast, Executive Director Joanne Maskew phrased it well.
“Our community was severely tested,” she told an army of volunteers and supporters. “This community experienced devastation, homelessness, loss of neighbors, friends and loved ones. As a community, we also found strength, courage and determination to rebuild our neighborhoods affected by this tragedy.”
KAB is a viable, and greatly appreciated, part of our community. We thank the organization for its involvement and its willingness to join others in our hometown’s collective rebound.
Likewise, we congratulate a few individual KAB award winners: Joyce Johnson, Volunteer of the Year; Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Business of the Year; and Sarai Burgos, LuAnn Carey, Jeannie Cuervo, Kenneth and Donna Malone, and Jennifer Norton, Environmental Education Award recipients.
As the old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Just as it takes a community to rebuild a hometown.