Basalt community to brainstorm ways to help | AspenTimes.com

Basalt community to brainstorm ways to help

A Methodist minister well-known for her charitable acts is organizing a community meeting in Basalt to discuss the possibility of the town housing some refugees from Hurricane Katrina.Marie Gasau, the minister at Basalt Community United Methodist Church, said she feels people have an obligation to help their fellow Americans.”Here’s a way to really help beyond making an anonymous donation,” Gasau said. “If every community across the country did this, we wouldn’t have any homeless out of this disaster.”The Red Cross reported Tuesday that 145,711 refugees were staying in 588 shelters it established in eight states. Countless other people who were forced to flee New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast have found shelter with other charitable organizations, friends or family, but some of that may be temporary.Gasau said the problems Americans have witnessed so many times with refugees in Third World countries are now a very real problem this country must address.”As far as I’m concerned, there’s a sacred bond,” she said. “How can we sit by? These people are hurting.”Gasau said she wishes the church had residences available so she could help deal with the problem swiftly and decisively. Instead it’s going to require brainstorming by the entire community. The Methodist congregation is hosting a community meeting to discuss how families could be sponsored for resettlement at its church in Holland Hills at 7 p.m. today. The church is located at 0167 Holland Hills Road. Everyone is welcome.She said if the community raises all the potential issues – from racism to job training to locating temporary or even permanent housing – she’s confident solutions will be found.She said organizations such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief are effective resources to identify families for resettlement.The Basalt Methodist Church is among countless organizations and individuals in the Roaring Fork Valley that have found ways to help the hurricane victims. Six kids attending religious studies Tuesday put together 35 “health kits” with essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and various toiletries. Gasau used her own funds to buy the materials, at a discounted rate, at Kmart.Next week she and the kids will likely assemble school kits of essential supplies in a backpack for displaced kids who are scrambling to attend new schools.Contributions to that effort can be made to BCUMC, Hurricane Relief Kits, P.O. Box 1159, Basalt, CO 81621, ATTN: Treasurer. Gasau said 100 percent of donations go to materials and shipping costs.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com