Monday, June 21, 2010


I wasn't going to blog about this until I got home, but it just can't be left for later.

I'm in Washington DC this week. In March I was honored with a Jefferson Award for Community Service for my local community. I was chosen, out of those 6 people, to represent the Central Coast for the National Awards. Tonight was the beginning of the festivities. Each nominee was asked to give a one minute speech about why they were nominated. Mine went something like this:

"Good evening. My name is Brittany and I am here tonight because of Hurricane Katrina. Over the last four years I’ve had the honor of leading 9 teams of people, totaling around 60 people, from my hometown of Felton, California on work trips to Pearlington, Mississippi, a town ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Over the course of those 9 trips we have worked alongside the residents of Pearlington to recover and rebuild their homes and their town. We have torn out and rebuilt, talked and listened, laughed and cried, sweat a lot and even left a little blood behind. Hurricane Katrina left a gaping hole in the lives of many in the Gulf Coast that almost 5 years later is still waiting to be healed. My team and I are committed to helping the residents of Pearlington heal for as long as we are needed or useful, and we do so honored to be used by God to bring hope back to the residents of Pearlington, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast."

I don't think it came out exactly like that, but it was close and it made Papa Bear cry, so it's all good!

After listening to the others give their speeches, we were dismissed for the evening. I headed out to double check on something that is happening tomorrow, when a young woman approached me and said "I just wanted to come say thank you for what you are doing. I lived in Pearlington."

This young woman, Chelsea, and her family are living in Memphis now, but they lived in Pearlington before the storm, right across the street from the post office. After she graduates, her parents are planning on moving back to Pearlington to rebuild. Chelsea is here because her school group is getting a Jefferson Award for Students in Action.

To put this into a little bit more perspective. There are 309,559,474 people living in the United States. There are probably about 500 or so people at the Jefferson Awards (I'm guessing, it could be a smaller number). Pearlington had about 1700 people living in the town before the hurricane. The odds of running into someone from Pearlington at the Jefferson Awards are so low it's ridiculous. But there I stood, talking with Chelsea. I told her my team would love to come help build her house. Tomorrow I plan on getting a picture with her and I'm gonna pass my phone number on to her as well. If the reason that I am here, right now, is to meet Chelsea, than the whole trip was worth it!

AND to top things off, when I checked into the hotel there was a note from the Washington Bureau of KSBW. Yep, on air interview in front of the hotel. CRAZY!

It's midnight here, bed is calling. Tomorrow is going to be a busy but good day. Pictures will have to wait til later but WOW what a night!


Kanda said...

We're living vicariously through your emails/blog right now, so thanks for the AMAZING update and please keep 'em coming! We love you, miss you, and are SO very proud of you! Hugs, Kanda and Harold

Anonymous said...

I'm so very excited for you and PROUD of you. Things are going to happen. I can just feel it. :)
Love you,
Aunt C

PatriotPaul said...

Brittany, you and your fellow volunteers are to be highly commended. So many have forgotten that the Gulf is still not rebuilt even after 5 years. Survivors still need to share their stories as it's therapeutic. Thank you so much for giving of yourselves!

Paul Harris
Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

Brittany said...

Kanda & Harold--ANOTHER on camera interview today! It's just surreal.

Aunt C.--Love you! Waiting for pictures of baby Ota!

Paul--Thank you for your kind words here and in the PressBanner. It's a privilege to speak about the Gulf Coast and a complete honor to hear the stories of the survivors. Your book is on my "to-read" list, btw!

trinity said...

Brit, I am so proud of you! I am excited about your connection with Chelsea! What a God thing!

Robert said...

Hi Brittany,

This is Robert Ford, Executive Director of the Jefferson Awards,

First of all, I want to thank you once again for all of your service. What you and your teams have done for the families of Pearlington is inspirational.

We only took our Students in Action program to Memphis last year, but already, Chelsea and other students like her, are doing amazing things in their community.

I am so happy that we played a part in bringing the two of you together, and I'd really like to stay connected to how things go.