Havre Daily News
Helping is a family affair for four local Red Cross volunteers. Father-daughter combination Mike and Candi Anderson and brother-sister combo Brandi and Joe Roman have signed up to head south and help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Mike and Candi Anderson were watching the devastation on TV when Candi suggested the two volunteer to help.
"Candi was the catalyst," Mike Anderson, a Hill County commissioner, said. "I don't think I would have gone if she didn't say anything about it."
Anderson said he taught his kids to help others, so he couldn't say no.
"There is no way my dad would have let me go without him," Candi said Friday.
Brandi Roman was concerned with her safety and asked her brother to go with her. She said she made sure the two would definitely be together.
"I'm not very big and sometimes feel defenseless, so I need my brother," she said.
There is a good chance the four will be sent together, she added. Brandi and Candi work as registered nurses for Benefis Heathcare in Great Falls. The two women share a dream to travel and help people. Both wanted to go to New York city after Sept. 11, 2001, but couldn't because they were still in school.
The two graduated from Montana State University-Northern in May.
Brandi said it's the perfect time to go.
"I'm not not married and don't have kids - just a cat to worry about," she added.
Her brother agreed about the timing. Joe had already planned to take off a semester from school in Missoula.
"I wanted to do something while I was doing nothing," he said.
Mike spent 23 years as a Havre firefighter and is a licensed intermediate emergency medical technician. Joe, a Havre High School grad who lives in Great Falls, said he'll bring his hammer and see where it gets him.
"I'm from Montana; I can shingle roofs," he said.
All four are unsure of when they will be deployed for their three-week rotation.
They have gone through Red Cross training and are waiting for the phone to ring. When the Red Cross calls, they might have as few as 24 hours to get to Great Falls International Airport to board a plane to an unknown destination, Mike said.
"They won't even tell you at the airport," he added.
The American Red Cross will pay for airfare, room and board, Candi said.
"I might be on a cot next to a hurricane victim or might be in a four-star hotel," Mike said.
As an elected official, Anderson has no vacation time, so he will be taking a leave of absence to head to the Gulf coast. He said the other two commissioners support his going.
Commissioner Doug Kaercher said the commission is not facing any major decisions in the next few weeks. If the two commissioners have a tie vote, they could ask Anderson to vote by telephone, he added.
The two nurses' bosses at Benefis Healthcare are allowing them to return to their jobs in the same positions, even though neither has finished a probationary period. The hospital has set up an account for employees to donate their vacation time to Red Cross volunteers.
Candi family has set up a fundraiser to help pay her regular monthly expenses like car and house payments while she's volunteering. To donate, visit the Web site www.candianderson.com or send checks made out to either Mike or Candi Anderson to Bear Paw Credit Union, 201 Second St., Havre, MT 59501.
Part of the donations will go toward purchasing red and white clothes, since Red Cross only supplies a name tag, Candi Anderson said.
Three local businesses have helped with shirts. Master Sports of Havre has donated shirts to the four volunteers, while Max Erickson of Beaver Creek Golf Course has aided with shirt embroidery. Altec Graphics of Havre donated a shirt to each of the four volunteers. The shirts from Altec have Havre Montana Red Cross written across them, which Brandi said she thought would be good to show people down there how far people are traveling to help.