During this season of thanks, we reflect and are reassured that God is all around us. His love has been demonstrated in many ways through ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He is in you – in your prayers, support, and compassion for the people served by Evergreen.
You have provided an essential support system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 60 years. This year has been the most challenging in our history. As we share the story of our journey so far this year and the extraordinary acts of kindness we have experienced, we are grateful for you and the strength of a foundation only you can provide. We ask that you prayerfully consider giving a financial gift today so that together, we can continue to protect and care for the needs of individuals served.
In February 2020, Evergreen acted quickly to establish a task force to prepare for what would become a health crisis. Evergreen has had to quarantine over 25 community homes for at least 14 days. We did this whenever a resident tested positive. For our staff, this meant temporarily moving into the community home, instead of being with their own families. Over 80 staff members also tested positive for the virus and some got very sick. Sadly, four people that we served died from the coronavirus. Our COVID-19 related expenses have soared past $2 million.
Through these immensely difficult times, we felt God through everyday heroes.
There was Karen Pickard.
As an involved member of her community, she recognized early on that the COVID-19 shutdowns left the people served by Evergreen in her Pineville, Louisianacommunity feeling isolated and forgotten. She found a way to bring them joy through her delicious homemade cakes.
There was Latonya Harris.
As an Evergreen home manager, Latonya was in charge of the first Evergreen community home to have residents contract COVID-19. Despite her risk as a diabetic, she insisted on being one of the staff members to quarantine in the home. Without a thought of her challenges, she selflessly quarantined in the home for 18 days to take care of the persons entrusted in her care.
There were the Evergreen staff members who worked through the Hurricanes.
Hurricane Laura tore through the state of Louisiana and devastated our West Calcasieu and Southwest Louisiana Divisions. Six weeks later, Hurricane Delta struck almost the same spot. Over thirty community homes across Louisiana were damaged, and some of our residents lost everything they owned.
Evergreen staff members left their families and evacuated with their Evergreen families. Some of our staff members’ homes were severely damaged and some were destroyed. Rather than returning home to pick up the pieces as soon as the storm passed, they chose to stay with the people we serve. Again, we felt God all around us.
There was the ministry of Camp Gilmont in Gilmer, Texas.
The Gilmont team received a phone call from Evergreen after Hurricane Laura severely damaged a number of our community homes. The hotel we evacuated to lost power and we needed someplace safe to relocate. Camp Gilmont didn’t hesitate. They made room for us right away and contacted churches in their community for donations to help the people we serve.
There were the Natchitoches firefighters.
Our Southwest Louisiana Divisions evacuated dozens of persons served and staff to an Econo Lodge in Central Louisiana as Hurricane Laura barreled through the state. The hotel lost power, leaving dozens of our most vulnerable individuals stuck on the upper floors until the local firefighters arrived to carry each person to safety.
It has been weeks since Hurricane Laura, and we still have eight community homes that are not yet habitable. Then Hurricane Delta delayed repairs even more. This means that the individuals who live in these eight homes are living in other parts of the state and that many of our staff members remain apart from their families. We depend on you to help us repair and restore homes as quickly as possible to keep the people we serve safe and comfortable.
Like so many others who have blessed us during this difficult year, we ask that you consider a financial gift today to help us continue our mission to serve, provide for and champion people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phillippians 2:13 – New King James Version