Southeastern furnishings head to flood-ravaged schools
Monday, November 21, 2016
by: Rene Abadie
PROPERTY TRANSFER – Heather Collins, an administrative assistant in the Southeastern Office of Student Publications, and Richard Himber, Southeastern director of Purchasing and Property Control, mark filing cabinets to be transferred to flood damaged schools in Livingston and Ascension parishes. The cabinets were just some of the surplus items being transferred to schools in need.
HAMMOND – Surplus equipment and furnishings that once sat crammed in a warehouse at
Southeastern Louisiana University will instead soon arrive to fill the classrooms
of flood-ravaged schools in Livingston and Ascension parishes.
Such items would have usually been recycled in different buildings on campus until they became worn out and useless. At that point they would be transported to the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency (LPAA) in Baton Rouge for public auction. However, creative thinking and the can-do attitude of Southeastern employees and friends of the university re-routed the items this time to help those educators who suffered losses when their schools flooded.
It’s a departure from the usual procedure for Richard Himber, Southeastern director of Purchasing and Property Control, but something he said he was glad to do.
“State law allows transfers of surplus items between agencies; school boards, however, are quasi-state agencies,” Himber explained. “LPAA is allowing us to transfer the items to the public schools for a minimal fee, which is being paid by a private organization.”
In the aftermath of the flooding, Heather Collins of Franklinton, an administrative assistant in the Southeastern Office of Student Publications, created the Facebook page “Adopt a Louisiana Teacher,” which allowed teachers to post what they needed to get their classrooms going again.
“The need was greater than I originally thought,” Collins said.
She then partnered with a friend from her hometown of Franklinton, Louisiana Federation of Teachers Field Representative Mona Icamina, and together they reached out to another Franklinton native, Southeastern President John Crain, with an idea.
Due to special circumstances could it be possible to transfer the surplus furnishings so they could fill classrooms in dire need of provisions rather than be sold at public auction? LPAA responsed that yes a special transfer could be granted and Southeastern’s administration signed off on the transfer.
“I’ve known Mona for years and was happy to take her call,” said Crain. “When she explained their idea, it was a no brainer. Southeastern is thrilled to have another opportunity to help our regional K-12 partners as they recover.”
With special approval in hand, Collins and Himber scoured the Property Control warehouse on campus, tagging desks, chairs, tables, media carts, filing cabinets and other items to be transferred to the schools.
“Usually items kept in surplus are recycled into other departments on campus, where they will be used until they are no longer useful,” Himber said. “We see the area schools as extensions of the university, so we’re glad we are able to help.”
Trucks recently arrived to pick up the furnishings and transport them to the schools in Livingston and Ascension parishes.
“Any state agency can do this,” Collins said, “and we’re hoping others will follow Southeastern’s example. I am very proud of Southeastern’s commitment to helping rebuild and heal Louisiana.”
Himber said any state colleges or universities who would like to follow suit are welcome to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll be happy to share the process for securing approval.