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.
Well I DID leave out the part about my grocery, and water bills! ;-)
I saw a house that wasn't 2 years old probably paid for mostly by tax dollars in worse shape from a family. New Orleans ghetto life is more destructive than anywhere else IMO.
If you're going to help, you have to get it straight in your mind from the start that you don't expect thanks. Or you're going to be sorely disappointed, when working with the poor, or anybody for that matter.
Good point. I remember the 'thank you' ads New York ran after the support they received after 9/11.
I haven't seen a reference to the Brown's race yet, so how can you be a racist? ;)
Government's helpful internet friendliness seems to have become a hindrance throughout this disaster. I hope they don't take it away! But it's no good in an emergency.
You are right about that. You have to give without expecting anything in return. However, you also should speak up when abuse is returned. Shaming someone who is mean to those who have shown charity is fine - not for what it does for those who have been abused; but for what it might do for the idiot who is dead to love.
I'm like that too. I used to have to borrow money from people and I was always scrupuloous about paying it back. I just bought a house and I was thinking about why I'd rather pay for a tool than borrow it even if I only need it once and I know I'll return it. It's because I don't want to put the owner of the tool in the position of having to worry about whether he should or shouldn't or whether it will come back or not. I'd just rather buy it. Then I'll have it. Or I'll make do with something else if it's only for one time.
It's probably better than Mogadishu.
I heard on the radio this morning that the kid who comandeered the school bus and drove the 40 people to Houston got busted for dealing heroin a couple of weeks ago. No heros anymore.
These stories are coming out, albeit over the Internet, but they are coming out. The MSM won't report it but they are there none the less. The reason the MSM won't report it is quite simple, it shows the extremes that a population sucking at the government teat has gone to. Honest, human charity is shown to them in their time of greatest need and they pi$$ in the cup of human kindness. This is what you reap when you put people on endless government subsidy without the self respect of working for a living. They have no respect for themselves therefore they have no respect for any other thing in this world, not even the kindness of another.
The good people that helped these ingrates should still be proud of what they did. Too bad they had to get stuck with a bunch of bums to help.
O'yea dere was dis fella called Rush today from NO that said tings wuz tolerble dere... jus awful, you know. Said all de tings Bush promise in de speech in fron' of St. Louis Catedral he lie about, none of 'em come true. Said all dis attention bein paid to Iraq and people in New Orlean's the ones that wuz hurtin and that they needs the money, but the money ain't there, nohow.
Rush wuz a little sympathetique until he started talkin about the money for Iraq but not for NO, then he said "A HA!."
Tuff noogies. Let them sleep in the street if it's so friggin' demeaning. Jerks.
Makes me wonder. Why do some people get off by doing that? Is there a missing circuit in their heads? It makes no sense when doing just the opposite feels so danged good.
"A small gift makes a friend, a too-large gift makes an enemy"
What a shame. They had a chance at a new start and the drug demon proved waaaaaaay too strong and tempting. When I heard about what they did, my first thought was how does a young person have the know-how to do something like this? My question has been answered.
These are the kind of people who were so irresponsible that they didn't leave when they knew the hurricane was coming, and can't take care of their own problems. They are trash. This is why I don't feel sorry for 90% of the "victims." The responsible ones are back down there taking the responsibility of rebuilding on themselves.
Photos of some of the family members:
Sandra Brown stirs rice while her daughter Rachel peeks into another pot. The Browns were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. (Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby) Oct 5, 2005
Rachel Brown, 10, tries on a sweat shirt while the rest of her family looks through donated items. "I don't need nothing more. They gave us everything," Rachel said of her family's benefactors. (Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor) Sep 29, 2005
Cody Brown, 13, and his sister Heidi, 14, look through donated items. Cody's major find was a letterman's jacket. Heidi chose a purse and other items. (Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor) Oct 11, 2005
Sandra and Keith Brown, who live in Westminster after losing their Houma, La., home, fill out job applications in their new kitchen. Their daughter Rachel, 10, looks on. (Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby) Oct 5, 2005
Hmm. They look white to me. Thanks for posting this. Trash comes in all colors, folks.