Dear friends of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund

People's Hurricane Relief Fund

There's a way to help Katrina victims that is sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed – the People's Hurricane Relief Fund.

Dear friends of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund -

Since Hurricane Katrina, Community Labor United - a New Orleans based coalition dedicated to creating spaces for grassroots organizations to dialogue, strategize, and build collective work-- has been facilitating the development of a Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition. Due to the enormity of the task ahead of us and the many different areas of work that need to be addressed, it has become clear that a national coalition must form to take on this project.

Many of you have read the initial demands of the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition. The document here below attempts to further specify the goals and objectives of this coalition effort, and to communicate a basic framework for organizing the massive body of work before us. We also outline here a few of the many tasks we need folks to take responsibility for.

Some of the work groups already have contact people so if you are interested in these work groups, please email the provided contact. They will be convening conference call meetings in the near future to include new volunteers. There will be a retreat at the end of the month (September 30) and each work group should send a representative to present a report of your work and future work plans. The meeting space will be announced shortly.

For a strong, reunited, Peoples' New Orleans,

Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition

ACTION PLAN for a National Coalition with Local Leadership

To build and maintain a coordinated network of community leaders, organizers and community based organizations with the capacity and organizational infrastructure that can help to meet the needs of people most impacted by Hurricane Katrina and facilitate an organizing process that will demand local, grassroots leadership in the relief, return and reconstruction process in New Orleans.


  • Manage the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and demand transparency from FEMA and other major organizations raising funds and resources in the people's name
  • Help to coordinate and support grassroots relief and organizing efforts and act as a clearinghouse for information and volunteers
  • Create and maintain an ongoing space for networking and strategizing between organizers and volunteers
  • Facilitate return/rebuild process and ensure local, grassroots leadership and participation in every phase


  • Local oversight work group to coordinate all working groups and facilitate communication
  • Establish 6 offices with a point person for each office in: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Jackson, Lake Charles, Houston and support Common Ground's office in Algiers
  • Establish "Survivors Councils" in cities across the country where evacuees have been taken/ have settled to ensure their participation, input and information distribution
  • Establish work groups (see below)


Encourage everyone to join a work group. Designate a point person from each work group who can convene conference calls and email discussions for the work group and who can be in touch with the communications centers. Designate a point person for each communication center, even where no physical offices exist. Host regular larger conference calls to get report backs from work groups and communications centers.


  • ensure local grassroots participation in all aspects of the work
  • find out about and make sure someone attends all public meetings regarding reconstruction
  • coordinate technicians who are assisting with reconstruction efforts including construction brigades and provide trade skills training
  • organize political responses at a local and national level based on the demands and analysis coming out of the People's Committee
  • draw individuals and groups that are part of the Black Liberation Movement and coordinate resources and support
  • work with displaced evacuees to keep them informed and ensure their input and participation
  • organize brigades of technicians for the reconstruction work
  • help to monitor government plans for return/reconstruction


  • Help establish offices and recruit organizers for Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Houston, Jackson, Algiers and New Orleans
  • Locate all CLU members and allies
  • Skilled facilitators for meetings and conference calls
  • Establish website, find volunteer to maintain and update
  • Send out weekly updates of coalition work
  • Temporary Contact: Becky Belcore (bbelcore [at] hotmail [dot] com)
  • Website contact: Andy Allen (andylovesbikes [at] yahoo [dot] com)

FUNDRAISING/FINANCE immediate tasks:

  • establish decision-making protocol on how funds will be used
  • establish budgets for both the Vanguard Fund and CLU
  • put out public call for funds for organizing specifically, and clarify how people can donate to organizing and/or direct relief
  • set up accounting system, find volunteer accountant

SUPPLIES immediate tasks:

  • create list of the best places to distribute donations of supplies
  • create list of people/organizations who can help distribute supplies and sites where supplies can be warehoused
  • coordinate supply distribution
  • designate point person to field requests for help with distribution

HEALTH immediate tasks:

  • assess/document medical conditions and needs
  • gather donations of medical supplies
  • build medical teams, establish free clinics
  • contact: Catherine Jones (cathjones_99 [at] yahoo [dot] com)


  • independent testing of air, water and soil
  • issue report about environmental conditions for the community
  • help publicize health information to help reduce exposure to toxins

MEDIA immediate tasks:

  • determine whether or not to invite professional, progressive media consultants to work with us
  • appoint Media Coordinator who takes interview requests, helps write articles, etc.
  • designate someone to handle requests for speakers and explore the possibility of speaking engagements as fundraisers
  • finalize official public statement for the press
  • develop mechanism for updating press statement as situation develops
  • identify and train spokespersons
  • agree upon talking points
  • identify people to monitor media and collect clips and issue daily short reports to the media, legal and oversight committee


  • appoint volunteer coordinator(s) with cell phone willing to field calls from individuals and organizations looking for ways to support/volunteer -- publicize this number and set up email account specifically for this
  • provide information to volunteers/organizations and facilitate their participation in the project
  • update inventory/database of the work organizations and individuals are doing with contact info, and survey folks about how others like them can join in their efforts-send out to whole group
  • contact for individuals: Jean Vegas (jeanvegas_nola [at] yahoo [dot] com)
  • contact for organizations: Beth Simpson (elizacorps [at] yahoo [dot] com)

LEGAL & CRIMINAL JUSTICE immediate tasks:

  • conduct interviews with people who were at OPP
  • explore possibilities for lawsuits
  • conduct ongoing research, create weekly reports to inform the local work
  • legal advisory role for relief fund
  • publicize DOC and OYD hotlines


  • set up Freedom Schools and after school programs for children
  • set up adult literacy classes
  • evaluate other educational resources needed for community members


  • collect stories from displaced New Orleanians on their experiences during and since the storm, as well as their ideas about what they would like to see in a reconstructed New Orleans
  • publish and otherwise make available the findings of this research for use in activism and influencing reconstruction policy



  • gather reports of abuse that occurred as a result of the hurricane, particularly crimes against women and children
  • develop a process by which abuse can be addressed and justice is served
  • research and provide resources for victims


  • visit or otherwise reach all shelters with hotlines and names of missing folks
  • Reunification for people displaced with limited resources
  • work to demand FEMA assistance in relocating families together


  • coordinate volunteers to provide FEMA assistance across the country (also as means to collect names and addresses of displaced folks)
  • set up 1-800 number for evacuees to call for assistance (also helps track people)
  • assess needs of local evacuees in terms of basic needs (ie housing, health care, education, etc)
  • direct organizing work for building of the People's Committee


  • develop means to emphasize that the people of New Orleans are the culture of New Orleans
  • work to support and include artists in reconstruction conversations

[Moderator's Note: If you want to donate you can send a check to The Vangard Foundation at the address below. Tax-deductible donations should be earmarked for the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and checks made out to: Vanguard Public Foundation 383 Rhode Island St., Ste 301 San Francisco, CA 94103]