This is a personal email I am sending out to all of you who I think would like to hear some of this encouraging news...it's long so get comfortable.
I spoke with Brad Adams, director of the Vandebilt Catholic High School Bands...he had some more encouraging news from Houma (1 hour away from New Orleans).
He said the level of help being received in the city by volunteers is "overwhelming and impressive." They had to turn away volunteers today because so much help was being given.
Vandebilt (a school of about 900 or so students) already has names of 70 students that they will be taking in as a part of their family
Tuesday the school will meet and ask all students to donate one part of a school uniform if they can to help the new students coming into the school. Friday will be the new student orientation. Every single teacher in the school is going to take on one more class of teaching in order to accomodate the new students and no tuition is being required of anyone coming into the school. They have not advertised this yet but they are by Tuesday expecting up to 200 new students and it will be packed but Brad says, "They are ready to open their arms to whoever needs an education and a new family to care for their needs."
The school spent 20,000 dollars today purchasing more desks that would be needed. All credits from previous schools will transfer and transfer back when needed. The band at Vandebilt, about 165 students total....will be ready to take on more students. Brad also mentioned that if the show the band is currently doing cannot import the amount of students the band receives, then they will save that show for next year and redesign it to fit the size of the band at that time. He told me that "it is more important to fit those students into the program and make them feel like they give something to the band rather than to have them sit on the sideline and do nothing all year...that wouldn't teach them a thing and it woudn't make them feel like a part of the family. If we have to do a 20 set show instead of a 60 set show this year...and just perform exhibition at every show, then that's what we will certainly do....these people need their lives back..they need to know people care and they are more important than a score or a trophy."
Also...after redialing their number at least 50 times i got through and my mom spoke with me last night and mentioned that they have power back in many parts of the city and cell phone use is very slowly being restored.
The people down there also want everyone to know that what is being shown on CNN and MSNBC is only a very small part of what is really going on. The media has a very powerful voice and unfortunately it is most of the time the only voice being heard.....I for one am sick of the media asking the same questions to police, army officials and governmental officials. Stop asking questions and start helping more. Stop getting in the way of people trying to do their jobs...this is not a circus, it's a disaster. The only news channel I saw show any sign of hope to people was FOX NEWS when they interviewed many people who were giving praise to the way the shelters were helping them. Many people are VERY appreciate of the things being done for them....many people are still looking for family members and many people are sending out chuch choirs and music groups to give hope and some level of peace to these people that have literally lost everything they own.
On a personal note...just to let everyone know, while the national media and others around the nation may have been problems with what the Mayor of New Orleans said, many many people in Louisiana and surrounding states are very proud that someone finally stood up and said what they honestly felt...whether it was politcally correct or not doesn't matter to me. It's obvious that the one thing the Mayor did show was the level of frustration people are feeling...and whether someone agrees or not with what he said directly, he certainly has passion for what he is doing.
Dateline NBC was in Houma, LA today and at some point tonight there should be a special report about Vandebilt High School students helping out at the local shelters. They saw the kids helping out there and went to the school and filmed some things there as well. It should be on national television tonight or very soon. I am certain that if it is...it will be posted online as well.
I'm going to go ahead and say this also......I'm ready for people to stop bickering over issues that aren't of life and death importance right now...LIKE GASOLINE PRICES. Since when is gas more important than saving lives? I hope I sound frustrated about this because I sure am. What matters right now is helping people. That's the bottom line. Make a sacrafice and help these people. I couldn't be more proud of the Univ. of Houston School of Music, Band Directors, Staff, and band members for doing everything they've done. I'm glad to call Houston home right now. Also couldn't be more happy about the Vandebilt Band and everyone else out there doing things to help....there are so many bands, churches, and other organizations and volunteers helping....Lord knows we need it...and need more of it.
I will send more news as I hear it.... Marc Martin
We are completely fine. Not a shingle displaced, didn't even get my feet wet. Unbelievable that two and a half hours away, people are fighting for their lives. A number of students of mine (theory, not horn) are from Metarie & Slidell. Some of their families are staying with them on campus, possibly for the next WEEKS until they are allowed back in. They may not have homes to go back to.
Lafayette is the closest large community west of the danger zone, and thousands of people evacuated to here. When every hotel in a 40 mile radius filled, they started putting people in the Cajundome, which is quickly filling to capacity. It holds over 7,000 people.
We enrolled 9 music majors from UNO, Tulane, and Loyola today. Their tuition has been waived for the semester, and we are pairing them with other students and giving them extra help to get them caught up.
Matthew's school bus driver was one of the 300 buses that took the doctors, nurses, and sick from the Superdome to the Astrodome, then came straight to run his school route with little sleep.
Thinking about all of you, and praying for peace & salvation in New Orleans.