A Grand Vision

RECEIVED Wed., Sept. 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    With more than 5,000 evacuees coming to live in our city, we have an incredible opportunity to help them get their lives started again.
    I would like to call on all the educational institutions and corporations in the area to think of, sponsor, and provide these refugees with training programs, gratis of course, in skills they now need to get their lives back into some semblance of order.
    With the reconstruction of New Orleans on the horizon, thousands of these folks could learn skills in construction, plumbing, electrical, sanitation, and operation of temporary cities, and then be ready to jump right in when the call comes to be able to contribute to the rebuilding of their homeland.
    Other courses in how to re-establish their finances, education on assistance programs that are available to them, and skills in starting over are a few good ideas.
    There are a hundred other things Austinites could arrange to help our guests weather this tragedy for the interim, such as developing recreational programs and providing entertainment – like free movie nights or concerts for them – to divert their attention from their situation, even for a moment.
    I don't know how such programs could get off the ground, but I have confidence in the leadership of our local corporations and educational officials to make it happen. Let's have these evacuees tell their children and grandchildren how Austinites came to their aid and made them feel welcome and empowered to re-establish their lives.
    They were our neighbors; now they're our guests, and they need our help. Let's do it in a unique and wonderful way that demonstrates the resourcefulness and generosity of our community.
Peter Lunsford
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