A strong sense of
Katrina counselor's loss connects her
to others affected by the disaster
By Major Frank
Southern Spirit staff
In a way, Jenny Zufelt can say she lost her home when Hurricane
Katrina slammed the Mississippi Gulf Coast - but then again, she also can say
that the contents of her home remained intact only because of what she
describes as a miracle.
apartment, located just a few blocks from the beach, was the "center
square" of a building that resembled a tic-tac-toe diagram - with
apartments on each side, and both above and below hers, Zufelt's home was
actually somewhat insulated from the destructive havoc throughout the
"The entire third floor above me was taken out by
the wind, along with the two apartments on either side of mine," Zufelt
said. "Meanwhile, the entire first floor below me was gutted out by the
surge of floodwater."
Photo, above right: Jenny
Zufelt, long-time Biloxi area resident, evacuated just before Katrina struck.
Her apartment complex was demolished and two people lost their lives. Now she
serves her neighbors as the Army's case management
Except for broken windows and some
water damage to some of her things inside, Zufelt was able to salvage most of
her belongings. In fact, she said, theoretically she could have eventually
moved back in - had the rest of the building not been condemned.
"I'm definitely blessed, especially considering that most
of my neighbors lost everything and that two bodies were later recovered in
what was once my building," she said.
struck, Zufelt was a state employee for an agency assisting elderly and
disabled people. Her experience as a case manager was a good fit for a position
later opened by The Salvation Army for a long-term recovery specialist. She
later became supervisor for 13 case managers working at the Army's Southern
Mississippi Area Command.
"It is so refreshing to work
for a faith-based agency, and I love working with people. In fact, some of the
folks we're helping in the rebuilding effort are those that I worked with
before," she said.
Regardless, Zufelt's experience
was sobering and frightening, and she calls the disaster "a world-changing
incident" for those affected by Katrina. In effect, she was homeless for
many weeks post-Katrina, staying with family and friends until she could
re-establish permanent accommodations when she returned to Biloxi.
"Now that I'm working with families recovering and
rebuilding, I know a little of what they're going through. It helps me
relate and keep everything in perspective," she said.
Zufelt and her staff help Katrina families connect to various
resources, process paperwork and work on case plans to eventually complete
their rebuilding phase.
Zufelt said that the hardest part of
her job now is to look into the eyes of children and realize the fear that is
still there. She's made it her goal to reassure those kids that things are
"I've never worked for a group or organization
that is so willing to help as I'm seeing here at The Salvation Army,"
Zufelt said. "I don't want to work any place else!"
Erin Eberhart, Miss
Jonesborough 2006, joined 9-year-old Noah Trivette in the opening ceremonies of
the 2006 Angel Tree program in Johnson City, Tenn. They joined Jim Richardson,
advisory board chairman, and Captains Todd and Wilma Mason, commanding officers
in Johnson City, to commence the program benefiting hundreds of needy children
past 10 years the Hendersonville, N.C., Kiwanis and Rotary clubs have raised
just over $180,000 in the Christmas Kettle appeal. Members of these two
organizations enter into this friendly competition competing for the "Bell
Ringing" trophy and at the same time helping those in need. Tom Cooper and
Kenneth Swayze (below) have been heading up the effort for the Rotary and
Kiwanis Clubs. Captain Gary Sturdivant, Hendersonville corps officer, says that
it is encouraging to see 70 to 80 Rotarians and an equal number of Kiwanians