[Letter to] Brothers and Sisters Who Want to Help

FFLIC staff – Gina Womack, Xochitl Bervera, Grace Bauer, and Kori Higgs
Date Published: 
September 4, 2005

Brothers and Sisters Who Want to Help,

Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLlC) is a 5 year old grassroots statewide organization dedicated to creating a better life for Louisiana's youth, who are or at risk of being incarcerated. We have offices in New Orleans and in Lake Charles. We have members across the state of Louisiana.

As you can imagine, our whole world has been turned upside down by the course of events in the last week.

We have members in New Orleans who we cannot find. Some were old and sick, some told us they were staying when we called last Saturday, saying "God will take care of me." In Louisiana right now, there are hundreds of kids locked up who have no idea if their families are alive or not. The youth from the Orleans Parish Detention Center arrived at Jetson Correctional Center for Youth on Wednesday, covered in sewage, starving, dehydrated, having been stranded for days with no water or food.

We want to find our members and the young people our sister Organization works with (the Youth Empowerment Project) and their families. We need to find homes for children who are being released but have no homes to return to. We need to get people out of shelters that are treating them like prisoners and into homes or at least hotel rooms with food and water and some security and hope.

We also want the racist, dehumanizing news coverage to stop. We want Members and non-members alike to LIVE and stop being blamed for being abandoned and left to die. We want our friends and families to stop being treated like "insurgents" in some kind of war, cast as "looters," and "thugs", and told that the people who are supposed to be saving them have the right to "shoot to kill."

We want people to understand that, in the words of a friend, a hurricane of poverty and racism hit New Orleans a long time ago. The people you see on national TV today, drowning in contaminated water, starving to death, fighting for survival in a situation where no one meant for them to survive - these people have been living this reality for years. Only now, the world is watching. Only now it is happening .faster and being photographed by news media that can get in and out of the'city even though food and water cannot. Now, in vivi-color, we are all watching the sick truth of how this city, this state and this nation do not care about poor people of color. Worse than don't care.

We have to do something. It is not in our organizational "mission" to Find people homes and reunite incarcerated kids with their families. Nor is it our mission to go to shelter helping people focus the kind of rage and fury that leads to riots into powerful, productive. and potentially future-altering. But we have cried and yelled and talked about it for days and today we finally pulled out the butcher block and markers and planned.

So many people have written asking for ways they can help and we're definitely going to need it. If you want to help FFLIC help our families survive the ineptitude and racism has left thousands to die, here are some things you can do:

1) Donate: Send a check to the "FFLIC Hurricane Relief Fund" to 920 Platt Street, Sulphur, Louisiana, 70663.

2) Volunteer: Come and help us walk through the shelters, find people, help folks apply for FEMA assistance, figure out what needs they have, match folks up with other members willing to take people in. We especially need Black folks to help us as the racial divide between relief workers and evacuees is stark. E-mail us ASAP if you would like to help with this work.

3) Send supplies for the effort: We don't need tee-shirts and underwear. We need things like cars, computers, a copy machine, a fax machine. All of these items are going to what we need to have in place to better help our families. To find out exactly what we need, call us at the number below.

4) Organize others to send donations, supplies or come down here and help.

5) If you are of modest means and you can't volunteer your time, do what you believe gives us strength. Pray, write op-eds or letters to the editor, organize your block, write FEMA and tell them what you think, protest local racist media coverage

We can't promise you a 501 (c) (3) letter to make your donation tax deductible. We are trying are hardest to get this in place soon but its not our priority. We can promise you that every dime will be spent helping the beautiful people of New Orleans who have lost everything they have survive and resist.

Do not hesitate to email us with questions. PLEASE email all 4 addresses however:

  • kdhiggsAThotmailDOTcom
  • familiescantwaitATyahooDOTcom
  • deenv_2000ATyahooDOTcom
  • xochitlATmediajumpstartDOTorg

With hope, rage, and heavy hearts,
FFLIC staff: Gina Womack, Xochitl Bervera, Grace Bauer and Kori Higgs

Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children
1600 Orehta Castle Haley Blvd.
New Orelans, LA 70115
504-522-5437 (phone)
504-522-5430 (fax)