A party in Pearlington | AspenTimes.com

A party in Pearlington

John Colson

An Aspen woman helping with the hurricane recovery effort in Pearlington, Miss., has become a party planner for the army of volunteers there.Helen Roberts, 43, is a British transplant to the Roaring Fork Valley who last month rode her bicycle to the storm-battered Gulf Coast, where she donated more than $2,000 in relief funds and the bicycle rig that got her there.She reports that she has settled in to a routine of sorts in a town she had never heard of a month and a half ago.And as part of that routine, she recently put together a party for dozens of people who have put their regular lives on hold in order to do what they can in Pearlington.Pearlington is the community of some 1,700 east of New Orleans that Carbondale and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley have “adopted.” It is the recipient of relief supplies, money, vehicles, medical equipment and personnel from individuals, communities and businesses around the valley.”Never, ever have I ever seen anything like this,” Roberts reported in an e-mail she sent last weekend.”The bad news is the devastation, it is how you can imagine, only 10 times worse when you are actually surrounded by it. The good news is what the love and good of the volunteers here are doing.”Roberts reported that she is staying at the local school, dubbed “The Compound,” where volunteers are busy “putting out 1,000 meals a day to residents and workers alike. Donated food, lots of it. Tons of waters, sodas and coffee (maybe, literally). Volunteers from all over the states, fire departments, rescue personnel, church groups, Indian reservations, the odd cyclist … .”On arriving at Pearlington, Roberts reported, “I tell people I am an event planner. Tammy, in the bunk next to me, last night, in her soft Charleston accent, said, ‘Oh, Helen, plan us a party, please, please, please.'”So Roberts became the party planner for the Compound.”I have permission, balloons, candles, Y2K paper napkins, a promise of sodas and ice creams, a gospel choir, a few guitar players, a drummer and a rapper! There are signs all over the compound, and I am ready!!! I even found a ton of Mardi Gras beads.”In an appeal to local donors, Roberts reported that there is a great need for kitchen utensils and gear, and outdoor extension cords. She suggested that anyone interested in helping the recovery effort buy kitchen equipment and send it to: PearlMart, Charles Murphy Elementary School, Pearlington, MS 39572.”Please don’t send junk from your basement,” she said. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful for any little thing sent, but these folk do not need our old stuff. They need new, working, up-to-date kitchens.”No word yet on how the party turned out, but Roberts said anyone who feels like contacting her can do so by sending an e-mail to theheartride@hotmail.com.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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