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Providing a Sense of Normalcy After Katrina

The Technology Learning Center (TLC) loans adaptive computer devices, specialized toys and recreation equipment, such as beach and sports wheelchairs, free-of-charge to people with disabilities. Located on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, TLC is the only resource of its kind in the Gulf Coast region of the USA. So when Hurricane Katrina destroyed TLC, families who relied on it were devastated.

Location: Long Beach, Mississippi, USA

The Lions Step In

“When we tried to reopen post-Katrina we really ran into a problem. We had no funds to buy new equipment,” said Nancy Ann Sherman, a Biloxi Lions Club member and TLC therapist. “The building and all the equipment were lost. I went to my club and said the place where I work is in need, and they backed me up 100 percent.” The local Lions were able to raise funds and secure a grant of nearly US$100,000 from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) to help the center reopen.

Open to Everyone

After Hurricane Katrina, Sharon Patterson and her daughter Stacey came to TLC to learn about and try out different technology. “This device cost over $6,000,” explained Sharon. “Having the equipment so I can use it first to make sure that it is going to properly work for her is great.” According to Sara Jackson, director, TLC, “We are very grateful for the compassion of groups like the Lions club that could see there was value in helping us rebuild the program. It’s inspired us to continue with our mission.”

Financial Facts

Local Lions secured a grant of nearly US$100,000 from LCIF. The grant allowed Lions to replace specialized equipment and help resume services to the community after Hurricane Katrina struck the center.


Tips and Tools

Make It Happen: How to help your community after a natural disaster

Why did Lions decide to do this project? »
Hurricane Katrina destroyed TLC and all of its equipment, leaving people with disabilities, their families, teachers, caregivers and therapists without necessary resources or specialized equipment. People face great challenges in rebuilding their lives after a massive natural disaster. For people with disabilities, these challenges are especially difficult.
Where did you start? »
By notifying the Biloxi Lions Club about the loss of TLC and how it was affecting people with disabilities. A group of Lions met with staff from TLC to discuss the needs of TLC and how Lions could help.
How did you fund the project? »
LCIF provided a grant of nearly US$100,000, and local Lions raised additional funds. LCIF and local Lions, especially the Biloxi Lions Club, were instrumental in helping TLC resume service to people with disabilities. The equipment purchased with LCIF grant funds will continue to serve people with disabilities for years.
How long did it take? »
Once TLC received the grant from LCIF, it took a few months to reopen in a room provided by the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. TLC planned to be back in its own building within a year.
Any special words of advice? »
By supporting LCIF, you can make a difference. Even though Katrina affected all local Lions, they immediately began helping others. In areas where the need was too large for a local club, the state organization and LCIF provided assistance. Lions aided every county and city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in some way after Katrina.
"You can see the children find their own independence and watch them grow and use the technology to make them better people."

Sharon Patterson,
Stacey’s Mom

"It’s easier to go on the sand because of these big giant wheels. Thank you for giving me these chairs."


"To see the kids using the specialized equipment, it just kind of brought home the feeling that we’re really doing a great job by helping them. When you can change somebody’s life, you feel the passion of service."

Howard Jenkins,
Columbus East Columbus Lions Club

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