A Partner in Deed

By Solomon, Frank | Policy & Practice, December 2005 | Go to article overview

A Partner in Deed


Solomon, Frank, Policy & Practice


If the disaster brought out the worst in nature--its unpredictability--it also brought out the best in the human spirit, its dependability and solidarity in times of need.

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While the flooded New Orleans, Louisiana and other states devastated by Hurricane Katrina and later Rita were overflowing with kindness from the rest of the country, most Americans weren't aware of the exemplary work and voluntary help from the nation's public human service professionals. Even less known to them was the effort made by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) in coordinating with many states to send social service volunteers to the affected areas.

APHSA waded deep into the call for help on the first day of the Katrina disaster, and managed within days to pull together 10 states, which sent a total of 163 volunteers to help. APHSA also put up probably the most informative web site on hurricane aid relief activities, congressional emergency legislative measures, and tales of heroic and admirable work done by many other states on its web portal.

The focus of Policy & Practice's December issue is on the power of partnership. Against the backdrop of hurricane disaster relief, the magazine highlights the work of some of the helping states in partnership with federal, state, local and other nonprofits. Like Louisiana and Alabama, many such states faced enormous challenges in logistics, communications, and transportation. All have the nightmarish task of sorting out records and determining evacuees' eligibility for service. But with the usual dedication of public human service professionals, these state human service agencies plunged into the work with the usual equanimity and modesty. In this issue, we showcase partnership efforts in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and New Mexico, fully aware that just about every state public human service agency chipped in with the relief effort. Ann Silverberg Williamson, Louisiana secretary of social services, leads the issue with an eye-witness account on what happened and how the state coped with the challenges of the hurricane aftermath. …

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