Freelancers Urged to Donate Books to Help Gulf Coast Writers Rebuild

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The National Writers Union's At-Large chapter is calling on freelance writers nationwide to contribute reference books to independent Gulf Coast writers who lost their libraries in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The group has established a fund and address in Louisiana for the central collection of donated books. Chapter Co-Chairs Seth Eisenberg and Ron Anisfeld are asking other chapters and similar groups throughout the country to urge members to participate.

The At-Large Chapter of the National Writers Union is calling on members nationwide to donate books to help freelance writers in Louisiana and Mississippi whose reference libraries were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Seth Eisenberg, the chapter’s organizing co-chair, said union members have a special responsibility to help freelance writers whose lives have been devastated.

“Freelance writers can’t count on the media giants and other major employers to get them the resources needed to rebuild their creative, professional lives after a disaster,” Eisenberg said. “As a community, we have a unique responsibility to help other freelance writers obtain the tools needed to once again tell their stories and contribute in their respective fields.”

Immediately after news of Katrina’s tragic impact on New Orleans became known, Ron Anisfeld, a co-chair of the union’s At-Large chapter, began trying to reach dozens of members in Gulf Coast communities. “We knew right away that our Brothers and Sisters were facing enormous challenges,” Anisfeld said. “We made every effort to reach out and let them know they were not alone.”

Members from Louisiana and Mississippi responded to the outreach from the chapter’s leadership, beginning the process that led activists to launch a national campaign.

Mary “Becky" Rolland, a New Orleans writer and NWU member who is also one of the nation’s leading paralegals, lost her home and employment in the wake of Katrina. She called the chapter’s efforts to connect and contribute to writers in need “a lifeline.”

Eisenberg, a former Red Cross Heroes campaign chair, asked Rolland to coordinate collection and distribution of books being contributed by NWU members. “Even though Becky’s life has been enormously impacted by this tragedy, she’s doing everything possible to also help other freelance writers rebuild their lives. Her dedication to our community is remarkable testament to resiliency, courage and generosity.”

Anisfeld said the At-Large chapter is also calling on other NWU chapters throughout the country to participate in the drive to collect new and gently used books for freelance writers in the Gulf Coast region. “We’ve already heard very positive feedback from leaders in the Boston chapter and hope to see similar participation from groups throughout the country. We can make a meaningful contribution to writers in need if freelancers across America will take a moment to go to their own bookshelves and bookstores to pick out one or more volumes that they’ll contribute to help our family members begin rebuilding their own lives. Gulf Coast writers have an important story to tell and so much to contribute. We’re committed to helping writers in need to the best of our ability.”

To participate in the campaign, mail a new or gently used reference book or bookseller gift certificate to Gulf Coast Writers Fund, PO Box 2067, Mandeville, LA 70470-2067. For more information, contact Seth Eisenberg.

About National Writers Union

Established in 1981, the National Writers Union is the only labor union that represents freelance writers in all genres, formats, and media. The group provides member benefits such as grievance assistance, contract advice, a job hotline, training, insurance, and opportunities for collective action.

With the combined strength of 3,500 members in 17 local chapters nationwide, and with the support of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), the NWU works to advance the economic and working conditions of writers worldwide.

NWU’s At-Large chapter brings together members worldwide who are not connected with an existing unit in a major metropolitan area. Eisenberg and Anisfeld are the chapter’s co-chairs.

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