The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Ongoing struggle

Social worker sees needs of Katrina's kids

Last school year, Donna Turgeau interviewed grade-school children in the New Orleans area to see if they were victims of trauma and in need of a new group-counseling program. She asked 17 questions, including whether the children had been victims of abuse, if they had been evacuated from their homes and if they had seen someone killed.

New Orleans social worker Donna Turgeau
New Orleans social worker Donna Turgeau worries that children continue to face emotional problems from Katrina’s devastation. Some even lack safe places to play, as areas like Wimbledon Play Spot in New Orleans East still are not used. This one was under water for almost one month following the 2005 hurricane and flooding.
The average child answered yes more than 12 times.

Turgeau knew she was at the right place at the right time. Working with Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, the member of Hosanna Lutheran Church, Mandeville, La., counseled some 50 students in two Lutheran schools.“I couldn’t turn down a single child I interviewed,” she said. The counseling sessions included teaching children ways to cope with feelings of anger and fear. Turgeau also used biblical lessons to teach about forgiveness and compassion. But even with her personal experience and training, working with victims of Katrina proved to be a learning experience.

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