Archive for January, 2014

Seminole and Presa Canyons guided tour to support Operation Gratitude

Seminole Canyon - photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Seminole Canyon - photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site and their friends group, The Rock Art Foundation, are sponsoring a special Seminole and Presa Canyon Day Hike as a fundraiser for Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddy Package efforts. The guided seven mile hike in Seminole and Presa Canyons will take place on January 18th. The tour costs $25 per person and entrance to the park will be free for participants. The Rock Art Foundation will match dollar for dollar all funds collected.

The group will visit cliff overhangs used as living shelters by the Middle-Late Archaic people and view elaborate mural-size prehistoric artwork, known as the Lower Pecos River Style Pictographs. These are thought to be some of the most elaborate and complex rock art drawings in the world. Due to the rough terrain, participants should be able to hike, clamber and climb over loose material, large boulders, rough uneven ground and dense vegetation to traverse the canyon. This hike is not recommended for small children. No pets are allowed.

Operation Gratitude is a non-profit, volunteer-based Military Support organization. They lift the morale of deployed Troops every year by sending 100,000 Care Packages overseas. The sons and daughters of soon to be deployed parents receive cuddly toy animals known as a “Battalion Buddy” which help give comfort during this difficult time.

As a bonus, special guest, Therese Frentz, Retired Captain, U.S. Air Force, has been invited to join the tour. She recently returned from a trek to the South Pole with a team of wounded veterans from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada as a participant in the Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge.

Frentz, was sent on her first deployment to Iraq for a six-month tour in 2004. On October 14th, while on security detail in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Frentz and two other Office of Special Investigation (OSI) Agents were victims of a suicide bomber attack. The explosion caused burns to more than 30 percent of her body and internal injuries, tissue loss on the left knee, and partial hearing loss. She suffers from PTSD and has overcome depression. She has come a long way, with counseling, medication, and physical therapy and CO2 laser surgery treatments to help prevent scar contractions and to aid with her skin’s circulation. She has been avid supporter for wounded veteran causes and aims to raise awareness of long term issues for returning veterans.

To make reservations, call the Park at (432) 292-4464 before January 16. There are a limited number of slots. The Park cannot guarantee space on tour for walk-ins. If available, walk-ins are first come first serve.

Here is what you need to do on the day of the tour: arrive at the Park at 8am, tour will leave promptly at 8:30. Plan for an all day hike; bring water, snacks, lunch, hiking shoes and dress accordingly for the weather. Sorry no credit cards will be accepted will be accepted for the tour; only cash or personal checks, written to the Rock Art Foundation.

Philippine Typhoon Recovery Fund Drive

In the first days of November, the Philippines were hit by category 5, Super Typhoon Haiyan. The devastation left in the wake of the storm was difficult to comprehend. Almost fourteen million people were directly affected by the largest typhoon ever to reach land and more than four million people lost their homes. Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan are still in need. Whole Earth Provision Co. is sponsoring a cash register fund drive starting on January 10th and running through February 9th to aid victims of this powerful storm. The beneficiary is Oxfam America. Whole Earth will add $20 to each $20 or more donation given during the Fund Drive.

OXFAM America aids victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Oxfam America has been hard at work in areas of the Philippines devastated by the typhoon. Their primary focus is clean water, sanitation and food security. Oxfam helped to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases by installing emergency water tanks to provide clean water and mobile water treatment units with generators and fuel to run them. They have also provided sanitation services by building emergency toilets and ensuring good hygiene by distributing kits loaded with essentials like soap, toothpaste and underwear.

Typhoon Haiyan wiped out a third of the Philippines rice-growing lands just as the harvest was coming in. The window for replanting was very small. To help improve long-term food security, Oxfam purchased 400 metric tons of rice seeds to distribute to approximately 10,000 farmers in time for sowing in mid-December, the height of the planting season. In the short-term, Oxfam is providing food aid, sometimes in return for assistance in critical tasks such as removing debris from communities and agricultural land. Oxfam’s chief concern now is reaching rural communities who have not received adequate assistance and making sure that communities are quickly able to rebuild their homes, infrastructure and livelihoods.

We hope that, if you are able, you will give generously to help our neighbors across the ocean who are faced with rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of disaster. Thank you.

Central Texas Halloween Flood Recovery Fund Drive

On October 31st, residents in South Austin and Travis and Hays counties near Onion Creek and its tributaries woke to torrential rains and record floods. More than a thousand homes were flooded, many damaged beyond repair, and their residents left homeless. Survivors of this event are still in need. Whole Earth Provision Co. is sponsoring a cash register fund drive starting on January 10th and running through February 9th to aid the victims of the Halloween Flood. The beneficiary is the American Red Cross of Central Texas. Whole Earth will add $20 to each $20 or more donation given during the Fund Drive.

Halloween Flood Waters in the Dove Springs Community

Photo by Angela Doetsch

Within the first five days of the flood, the American Red Cross of Central Texas deployed more than 200 disaster responders and 18 emergency response vehicles, opened four shelters, and provided nearly 31,000 meals and snacks. They provided clean up and comfort kits, and bulk items like rakes, shovels, buckets, work gloves and masks to help residents begin the clean up process. The Flood Assistance Center has helped more than 500 individuals with immediate needs like food, clothing and temporary housing information as well as long term help in filing insurance claims, long-term housing, and potential federal assistance.

While FEMA is helping the City of Austin and Travis County recoup some of their costs, Individual Federal Disaster Relief has been denied, though the ruling is being appealed. In the meantime, many of those who were affected need our help. Janet Hutchison, an official with the Red Cross of Central Texas explains: “I just got off the phone with a woman whose home was destroyed by the floods. She is not in the buy-out program with the city, so will have nowhere else to go. She needs some basic assistance to get her electricity back on, get a toilet installed, etc. The city has no answers for her. We will do all that we can, but this is an example of how folks in the lowest socio-economic sectors fall through the cracks. They pay their taxes, live in the most affordable house they can and when it is destroyed, have very few options. It is heartbreaking, unjust and plain old frustrating.” Funds donated to the Red Cross of Central Texas Disaster Relief Fund will help support relief and recovery efforts for the Dove Springs community in Austin.

We hope that, if you are able, you will give generously to help our neighbors who are faced with rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of disaster. Thank you.