PSC Board Chair Part of Tornado Relief Effort [4-15-15]
Last week’s devastating tornados in Illinois killed two people and left wide spread destruction in its path. Many volunteer groups assisted with the cleanup, including the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance group. That group of volunteers included the Prairie State College Board of Trustees Chair, Jacqueline Agee. She also is an attorney and a police officer with South Chicago Heights.
The Sheep Dog Assistance Group (SDIA) website describes itself as, “a non-profit organization that serves the needs of the men and women serving in our military, law enforcement, fire & rescue and EMS services – a community of people we call “Sheep Dogs.” Members come from the current and former military, emergency and law enforcement personnel. The group’s goal is to mobilize and respond quickly, which is exactly what they did after the tornados. Also, they aim to integrate seamlessly with first responders. Other services provided by the organization include providing service dogs to soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and providing Christmas gifts to the children of fire and police personnel that have been injured on the job.
According to Agee, the group is nimble and able to act quickly to provide assistance during disasters. “On Saturday, we focused on damaged homes in the unincorporated areas where the tornado struck. We arrived with the necessary supplies and we assisted in repairing two homes with roof tarps, tree removal, and picking up debris.”
One home was headed up by a single mother who had both grandmothers and her young daughters living there. The children’s playset was one casualty of the tornado. “One daughter, Abigail, kept asking me to put her playset back together. It was hard to explain to her that the playset was too damaged to repair,” Agee said.
By the volunteers taking over the home repairs, it gave the residents a chance to absorb what happened, and make plans for their next steps. Also, the volunteers were able to prevent vulnerable homeowners from being taken advantage of by shady contractors, which is what was going on at some homes. The Sheep Dog group was able to inform the contractor that his services were not needed.
“A member of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance called me to help out. We were happy to get involved and see a team in action,” Agee said.
A local chapter of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance currently is being formed. The group is open to all current and former members of the military, police officers, and firefighters. Plus, individuals can volunteer to assist. The first meeting of the Chicago/NWI Sheep Dog Impact Assistance Chapter is at 6:30 p.m., May 29, at Benny’s in Lynwood. For additional information about the new chapter, email Agee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Sheepdogia.org for more information about the national organization.
Agee also has plans to assist Abigail in getting a new play set. She is not about to let that little girl stay disappointed.