Brian Kish from UNAPEN mobilizes a relief team for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in an extraordinary display of humanitarianism
Wallingford, CT: September 6, 2005—When Rob Harris from Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell’s office put out the call for help for the victim’s of Hurricane Katrina there were many Connecticut residents who sprang to action. Brian Kish, UNAPEN’s Vice President of Application Services was one of them. Brian has been a volunteer for the Red Cross/Salvation Army for some time now but never has he rallied the spirit of hope, compassion, and charity as he did this past weekend.
Brian Kish’s affiliation with the United Check Cashing/Major Motion Racing Team gave him access to a 52ft. trailer that is normally used to transport racecars. Originally, the governor’s office requested that the trailer, once loaded, be driven to Bradley International Airport in Hartford so the supplies could be loaded onto planes. Brian Kish went the extra mile, or rather 1500 miles. With the help of his son, some friends, professional drivers, and the National Guard, Brian loaded up the trailer with donated goods and drove non-stop to the areas most devastated by the colossal hurricane. Kish said, “I knew the need was urgent and it would take only 24 hours to get the crucial supplies to people who had been suffering for nearly a week.”
On Saturday, September 3rd, there were 95,000 pounds of supplies including toilet paper, diapers, baby food, batteries, tents, water, peanut butter, jelly, sheets, comforters, toothbrushes, and much more that were squeezed onto every available square foot of the trailer from the Hartford Armory. Even as the trailer was being loaded, generous citizens were still bringing their donations—loading them directly from their cars into the stuffed trailer. Others, such as Joan Walker, the CFO of UNAPEN, gave financial donations to help with the huge cost of gas to transport the relief.
At about 9:00 AM on Monday, the relief team rolled into the town of Bayou La Batre, one of Alabama’s hardest hit areas. Floodwaters following Katrina reached 11 feet in some places in southern Alabama, while about 718,000 homes and businesses in Mobile were left without power for days. Kish and the other volunteers along with military personnel unloaded the aid at an abandoned farm turned makeshift relief center where victims of the hurricane lined up all day to get the items they most needed. Before Kish’s crew arrived, the only items being handed out were MRE’s and ice.
Exhausted and exhilarated from three days of loading, driving, and unloading, Kish and his companions were offered a place to stay from one of the volunteers that they met in Bayou La Batre. On Tuesday morning, they began the long trek back to Connecticut. Kish’s ability to corral the resources and manpower was a big part of this operation. However, his “get up go” attitude, his willingness to help others and use every muscle in his body, his sacrifice of time, sweat, and energy are what really make a difference.