At first glance, Zach Erskine and Ta Marilyn wouldn’t seem to have much in common. She’s a Vietnamese-American living in Baton Rouge. He’s a Florida college student serving with AmeriCorps NCCC and working as an American Red Cross caseworker. But when they met in Baton Rouge, they found out they had more in common than either would have thought.
When the Nationalist Vietnamese Community of Baton Rouge and Vicinity held an outreach event for their community, Erskine was one of the caseworkers there to help people register for Red Cross assistance and get the help and resources they need to pick up the pieces after the historic floods in the region. Marilyn was at the event to get help with rebuilding her home. When Marilyn met Erskine, they soon found out they both came from the Seattle area. They were soon sharing memories of home and stories of their families. But that’s not the only tie that binds them together. Erskine knows exactly what Marilyn is going through as she picks up the pieces left behind after the flood. Eleven years ago, Erskine was living in Mississippi with the step-mother, while his father was serving in the Navy in Afghanistan. Then, Hurricane Katrina arrived and Erskine, like thousands of others, lost his home to the storm.
Today, as he helps Marilyn and many others with their recovery planning, Erskine brings a special empathy to his work. He’s been where they are and he knows the struggles they face. That’s why he’s exactly where he wants to be, as part of the AmeriCorps Red Cross team, serving the community and giving hope to those working towards recovery.