Jail Aids Katrina Family

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

September 27,2005

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail is usually thought of as a haven for criminals. Now it is also a haven for one New Orleans family. The jail is chipping in to help one family in the corrections field devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The Robinson Family of New Orleans spent nearly 5 days trapped at the New Orleans courthouse waiting to be rescued. Lois Robinson was a guard at the jail and needed to work during the storm. Because of this line of work, she is making new roots here in Charlottesville, and a new home in an unfamiliar place.

"It has kind of helped a little bit knowing that we got people out here who care because at first we thought nobody was going to help us but when we got here, we got plenty of help," said Lois Robinson.

After witnessing the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina, Colonel Ronald Matthews and the staff at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail knew they wanted to help. So, they decided to aid a fellow prison guard in need.

"It was something that we could do here locally to help some of the victims that were left homeless by Katrina," Colonel Matthews said.

And help they did. Jail staff has provided a home, furniture, and a new job for Lois Robinson at the jail. They worked with Jim Price Chevrolet to provide a car and each staff member is donating $10 a month to aid the family.

"It's like family because they try to help us and anything they can do for us they ask us if we need anything," said John Robinson.

The jail staff thought it was the least they could do in these times of need.

"It is a small gesture. But I think if every organization across this country can help one or two people from that area, I think we can accomplish a lot," said Matthews.

Right now, the Robinsons are unsure what the future holds, but they are thankful for the support.

"Well we like it up here real nice and everything seems like it is working out pretty good for us," said John Robinson.

"Right now we like it here so this might be home but we are not too sure right now," said Lois Robinson.

Both John and Lois Robinson were born and raised in New Orleans. Lois will start her new job at the jail on Monday. In the mean time, the family hopes to settle into their new home, and possibly their new lives. John Robinson hopes to find employment as a forklift operator.

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