Skip to comments.Lent house in shambles (Katrina evacuees trash accomodations)
Posted on 11/29/2005 6:01:20 PM PST by Nomorjer Kinov
When the Firm Foundation Worship Center got the call that a family of nine escaping Hurricane Katrina had arrived in Westminster needing a house, church members jumped into action.
"They came here with nothing," said Marge DiMaggio, the church's co-pastor.
As quickly as possible, church members made a house on church property look like a home.
When the Brown family left on Sunday, the DiMaggios were horrified to find the house in shambles.
"Hurricane hits Firm Foundation," said Marge DiMaggio.
While answering the call in September, church members' hearts were filled with compassion for the unknown family.
"We brought our pillows over," said Marge DiMaggio, so the family could sleep well the first night.
The church laid new carpet donated by Altieri Builders, redid the bathrooms, found appliances and even hung curtains to make the old-fashioned white-frame house welcoming to the family.
They bought clothes, assembled beds out of mattresses donated by the Westminster Rescue Mission and stocked the pantry with food.
The Browns paid no rent and no utilities for the house.
On Sunday, the DiMaggios entered the house after church, at about 1 p.m., said Marge DiMaggio's son, Brian DiMaggio. The Browns left during church services, between 11 and noon, he said.
A lamp was smashed on the floor, the lampshade stomped.
The screen door was torn off the hinges and flung onto the back deck.
Someone cut a hole in the trampoline that belonged to Joann DiMaggio's children.
Curtain rods were ripped from the wall and left bent and dangling from one screw.
Clothing, potato chip bags, soda cans, socks and empty bags were strewn throughout the house.
A hole was punched in a bathroom wall.
In another bathroom, dried toothpaste was smeared on the vanity, a capless toothpaste tube on the windowsill above.
A big, broken pink plastic car was abandoned on the hill outside the house.
In a dirty refrigerator upstairs, someone left a coffee mug with an inch or two layer of coffee sludge in the bottom.
Dirty dishes were stacked in the sink or on the counters.
But in perhaps the biggest insult, the words "MD Sucks" were emblazoned in black paint on the side of the home.
"When our eyes caught this, we all stood here and froze," Marge DiMaggio said.
Unhappy in Maryland
According to 42-year-old Keith Brown, who with his wife and children was halfway back to their home state of Louisiana, the property was not misused.
"We cleaned up as much as we could," he said.
He denied painting "MD Sucks" on the side of the house. His wife denied knowledge of any vandalism.
Yet Brown, whose family was referred to the church by Home Services Resources of Westminster, admitted to being unhappy during his stay here.
"We had a lot of problems with people about the house," he said.
The DiMaggios would come in and sneak around when the family was out, he said. The DiMaggios would tell them they needed to clean up this and that.
"Living in that environment and having someone watching over your shoulder wasn't worth crap," he said.
Marge and Joann DiMaggio were stunned at Brown's angry response to their generosity.
"The house was so fresh two months ago," said Marge DiMaggio. "We didn't check up on them," she said. "We didn't lord over them. We had no idea."
A few times early on they did ask that things be cleaned up, but that was only natural, she said.
Further, Brown said, the family was never provided with money he said the church promised to help them return home.
"If I wouldn't have done some under-the-table work ... I would never have the money to come home," Brown said.
All of this, he said, left a bad taste in his mouth.
They had to fight to keep items given to them, such as one of the home's two refrigerators and a washing machine, he said. The DiMaggios, who let the Browns have the items, said they had believed the appliances were donated to the house, not the family.
Brown said the DiMaggios, having heard a rumor the Browns were leaving, insulted the family by showing the house to another couple without the Browns' permission.
The DiMaggios had a right to show the house to prospective renters, Marge DiMaggio said. "Frankly, we didn't need permission to bring someone in."
The prospective renters said the house was trashed, but they did not see any vandalism, according to Brian DiMaggio.
The Browns never thanked the church for what it did, Marge DiMaggio said.
"I don't know why they would have a bad taste in their mouth when everything was given to them," she said. "We gave them everything. They never paid for anything."
Therein might lie the problem, said psychologist Harald Graning of Confidential Counseling of Westminster.
While the Browns might look like the ultimate ingrates, their response is not unnatural, he said.
"Suppose that you were living your life," he said, "and all of a sudden God came down and destroyed your house? You'd probably be pissed."
The anger that people feel under such circumstances needs to be vented and often isn't.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming generosity of others can backfire by intensifying the recipient's sense of anger and helplessness.
"You are forced to accept charity," he said. "It's demeaning."
Doing good makes the benefactor feel better, not the person being helped, he said. When the person on the receiving end can't repay the kindness and feels compelled to feel appreciative, he or she can become extremely frustrated. Acting out can occur.
Church members trying to make sense of the situation shouldn't feel rejected or upset their gifts were rejected, he said.
No good deed goes unpunished.
Probably trashing the house is just part of their normal lifestyle.
"You are forced to accept charity," he said. "It's demeaning."
Obviously this family was quite demeaned, being forced to accept so much charity. There may be some good however - I'm sure their hosts will be much more reticent to "demean" them, or anyone else in need, in the future.
I understand the frustration of being helpless and in need..
I also understand trash...
Those of us who said not to take in refugees, even those referred by a church, were roundly crticized here a few months ago.
There's always someone who will excuse the behavior of the worst among us. The generosity was the problem. Gimme a break.
That leftist psychologist is an idiot.
Oh puleeze...sounds like all of LA made a living accepting charity for generations. They weren't demeaned by it.
there have been many stories where evacuees who were giving free housing - even in places most people would consider to be paradise - were completely ungrateful about it.
I guess some people can't abide by having it 'good' if it's unfamiliar to them - so they revert back to the lackluster conditions they're comfortable with.
Look for more stories in the same vien. When people never earn their own money this is how property and possesions get treated. I live in New Orleans and I am back full time. When other states began taking in evacuess I told my family that this would happen. All the goodhearted people who tried to help will be devastated.
Leave it to the psycobabble crowd to rush to the defense of these heathens. It would seem the wanna-be-shrink has no more idea of morality than the gutter trash from Louisiana.
Freepers should keep an eye out for this behaviour elsewhere, because these people were flown all over the country.
This idiot shrink is as nutty as these ingrates.
Wow......what can I say? Your "Keywords" are adequate! The psychologist needs a psychologist, and this family needs some condoms.
That this guy provides guidance to others is scary....
I'll bet he knows better than to be charitable.
It is a sad statement to say you were correct. This family traveled to Maryland ... that is long distance ingratitude.
Marge DiMaggio gets hit upside the head with an object lesson in reality.
"Therein might lie the problem, said psychologist Harald Graning of Confidential Counseling of Westminster."
The biggest problem is apologists for unacceptable behavior.
Well, as my grandfather used to say: "You can't shine
sh!t; you can rub it, and rub it, and rub it, but it just won't shine..."
These people may or may not be trash; but the tables could be turned. I used to work for this company and we did a Christmas thing every year. One time this couple and their family came. They dressed as nicely as possible which was really pretty good; but were driving a really nasty looking car. I was so glad we could help them; but some of our people including the manager decided to read into these people and made their stay with us very unpleasant. I was absolutely mortified. These people did nothing to deserve this kind of treatment. They knew they were coming to a company and tried to dress accordingly; but to this manager they were taking advantage of us; which I believe was totally untrue. I believe they were as honest as they could be and I could have rung that manager's neck and the others that were so cruel. You could see the hurt in their faces after being treated so shabby by these ex co-workers.
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