Little brother, BIG heart

By Brooke Westbrook/Item Lifestyles Editor
Saturday, September 24, 2005 7:38 PM CDT

(Photo by Brooke Westbrook) Bobbi Barrows, proudly looks at a picture of her younger brother. Her heart is full of joy because of the differences he has made in other's lives. 
"He kept waiting for an assignment, but he just had to get down here to us. It was his driving force," said Bobbi Barrows.

Bobbi was talking about her younger brother, Clint Tupper, who traveled from his home in Connecticut to do anything he could to help the community after Hurricane Katrina. And help is what he did.

Clint, an EMT in Norwich, CT, got to Bobbi and their older sister Debbie Waldrop, both of Picayune, as soon as he could after the hurricane. "There's just the three of us. Our mother is gone and our father is gone. I guess sometimes he feels like he has to be the parent when he's actually the youngest of the three of us," said Bobbi. "He's a real giver."

Bobbi's brother has lived in Connecticut for about 20 years. "I have gotten to see him more than usual during the past year, so telling him good-bye this time was even tougher," she said.

Clint holds Red Cross credentials and has tactical training experience. When there are violent situations, like there was in New Orleans, he is certified to go into those circumstances and do his job.

When Clint arrived in Picayune, he found out that the free clinic was in need of supplies. He told them if they would make a list of the things they needed, he would get it for them. Bobbi had already been volunteering her time serving food at the Picayune shelter, and Debbie was volunteering at Resurrection Life.

Clint made a phone call to a friend in Connecticut and the people there donated more supplies than anyone could imagine. "The people in Connecticut were extremely generous. They didn't send any junk," said Bobbi.

The donations included food, clothes, medical supplies, nursing home and home health care supplies, baby needs and household items. When a preacher in Connecticut mentioned to his congregation that there were needs in Picayune, a man in his church, along with another member, volunteered to drive all the donations to Picayune in his eighteen-wheeler.

"When the two men got here with the truck, the clinic told us they couldn't use what they brought," said Bobbi. "Those two men were so upset they cried. We couldn't find any place that would accept the donated supplies."

Thankfully, after contacting and receiving help from Dr. Walter Gipson and Dr. Ahmad Haidar, the supplies were distributed to places where they were needed most, including a home health group and to a dialysis unit. Dr. Haidar even extended his hospitality to the men who drove the truck and offered them his guest house for their two day stay.

Some of the donated clothes were taken to Stennis Space Center. There were also eight pallets from the truck delivered to Crosby Memorial Hospital and eight pallets to a Methodist church in Bay St. Louis. "When we took the things to that church, we all held hands in a circle and prayed together. The men from Connecticut said if no one else would have accepted what they brought, it would have all been worth it just to see the happiness on the faces of the people at that church," said Bobbi. "We also gave a lot of the supplies to the Nicholson Fire Department. I'd be a liar to say we were choosy for who we did what for. We tried to look for who needed things the most."

"Clint never gave up. He kept a smile on his face and kept pushing forward. I kept pushing him forward and I was right behind him saying, 'Clint, we will get it done," said his older sister.

Clint is part of a motorcycle group, the Freedom Riders. The group not only loaded his truck down with necessities to bring the victims in Picayune, but also gave cash donations. "We gave people here that cash to get medicine," said Bobbi. "When we heard of a need, we handed them the cash. Debbie was our food lady, and tried to keep everybody fed. She was such a big help. She did a lot of thinking for us when we were groping at straws."

Helping others is definitely not unheard of in this family. "Biblical principles is what giving was based on in our family and our parents taught us to give," said Bobbi. "My mother was a nurse and my father would give people the shirt off his back if they stood still long enough. My grandmother was the most giving individual I've ever known in my life."

Bobbi recalled how she used to stop by and check on her grandmother every day after work. During one particular visit, her grandmother was sick. As Bobbi was leaving, her grandmother told her to wait, because she wanted to give her something. She was in the kitchen for a few minutes and came back out with an envelope that had morning glory seeds in it. "I cried all the way home because she just couldn't let me leave without giving me something," said Bobbi with tears in her eyes. "The morning glories are still growing where I planted them outside my house. I think about her every time I see them."

The good deeds Clint did while he was here are endless. When he heard an elderly couple needed a generator for their oxygen, he made sure one was delivered to them. He took his laptop to the shelter at Picayune Junior High so people could apply for FEMA. He even helped save a life because of things he brought in his truck.

Another selfless act that Clint performed was for a family at the shelter. He noticed how they desperately needed to stay at the shelter, but were distressed because they couldn't take their pet. Clint knew the family needed money, so he offered them $100 for their dog, Twister, and promised to give him a good home. The next day his daughter called him from Connecticut and told her dad she had decided on what she wanted for her birthday. "I want a dog! Bring me a dog from down there," she said. She didn't know it, and neither did Clint before her phone call, but he had already had already purchased her birthday present.

"He got to the point where he became real emotional," said Bobbi. "The day before Clint left he took some gentlemen to see their homes in New Orleans for the first time since the storm. He got to one man's house, and there was a note from his brother he had been worried about, letting him know he was ok. There was also a note from his boss, telling him he still had a job and could come back to work. It was a good ending to his trip, because he saw this man with a smile on his face. Clint never quit trying to help people until he went to bed the night before he left."

"A while back I received an All-American award from President Clinton for helping people and getting things done. I told Clint that he has gotten way more done than I ever have. I received that award because I had helped five people. He helped a whole community. He touched so many lives here. I don't know how to describe how super proud of him we are."

Clint Tupper arrived in Picayune with one thing on his mind-to help others. United with his two sisters, their family value of giving endured the trials, and touched the hearts and lives of many.