When Plans Change…

When her neighbors lost everything to significant flooding in 2019, Jacki Trujillo stepped in as the Volunteer Coordinator and Donations Management for the Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG). Hired through a grant from the Midwest Early Recovery Fund to the Fremont Area United Way, she quickly started lining up volunteer groups to come to Fremont.

In February 2020, the plan to repair and rebuild houses was well underway. Jacki had a full calendar of volunteers through September 2020 and then the first call came in—volunteer teams had to stand down because of COVID-19. The full calendar emptied quickly as the calls kept coming in. Then Jacki had to make calls to the few remaining groups to tell them they needed to stay home. Homeowners were notified that there would be a delay in repair and rebuild; that they may not be able to return home in 2020. This year has asked for more adaptability than any disaster before, and the LTRG in Fremont, Nebraska rose to meet the challenge.

It’s a daunting task, flood recovery + pandemic recovery. Along with flood buckets and sheet rock, this year they are handing out masks and hand sanitizer. Jacki and the LTRG have added to their tasks distribution and storage of PPE, food and other supplies for area needs. Bilingual case managers and staff have stepped into provide translation and assistance to the Latinx community in the area. And the community once again got involved with helping their neighbors. When masks were needed for frontline workers and others in the community, Jacki reached out to the 4H Groups and the community. “Eight-year-old, Kylie, a member of T.E.A.M. 4H from Scribner, joyfully and quickly responded. She made masks that we will distribute to local community members and agencies needing them. Her smile in this picture really says it all. Neighbor helping neighbor!” They are gathering many sewers to help make masks, gowns and surgical caps for community members, and through it all they continue to hand out hope, working hard to ensure that no one is left out.

(Photo source: Kylie, T.E.A.M. 4H)