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Thursday, January 21, 2010

LSF Helping Haitians Arriving

in Florida after Earthquake
About 25,000 expect in the U.S. in the Next Week
By Thomas L. Weitzel, LSF Communications

20 January 2010
Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) staff and volunteers are working around the clock to assist in the processing of Haitians arriving in Florida following the devastating earthquake that struck the nation's capital on Jan. 12.
About 25,000 Haitian Americans holding dual citizenship in the United States and Haiti are expected to arrive in the next week, mostly in Florida, according to Eric Tillich, Vice President for Agency Advancement at LSF.

"People are coming here basically with nothing except maybe a backpack," said Tillich, "after losing everything in the earthquake."

LSF staff and volunteers are currently assisting at Orlando Sanford International Airport by providing interpreters who speak Creole, helping with processing, and seeing that those arriving get food, water, provisions and any needed medical attention. Children are being given Mickey Mouse stuffed toys to provide some level of comfort.

In addition, LSF is partnering with the Florida Children's Coalition to coordinate volunteers from other agencies serving children and families.

"We are coordinating this volunteer effort on the ground," said LSF CEO Samuel Sipes, "and we are grateful for the support and assistance of our partner agencies that are also sending staff and volunteers."
That effort by LSF staff, volunteers and partners is a 24 hour effort, "because planes from Haiti are arriving 24 hours," said Tillich. "LSF is truly on the front line of assistance."

LSF staff and volunteers are also gearing up to assist with the processing of Haitian Americans coming into other areas of Florida if needed as well, he said.

"Prayers are very much needed for these people and for our staff as we work to help bring some much-needed assistance to those arriving in Florida," said Tillich.

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