A Passion for Helping Disaster Victims

[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal user James Coffeen sent a letter to support@flip-pal.com suggesting a plan for action when devastation strikes and fires, floods and tornadoes threaten the loss of precious family photos.]

There is something I’d like to do. Several years ago, at a retirement home, I started scanning old photos for both residents and employees. One reason I did this was that many people have only one copy of a photo that is very precious to them and they are devastated if something happens to it. This was before Flip-Pal existed. I did the scanning in me and my wife’s apartment. I really didn’t want to be responsible for the loss of any of these “only-one” pictures, so I made it a rule that the person needed to bring the picture to the apartment, where I would scan it and hand it right back. This was a good rule, but it didn’t hold up in practice. For one reason or another I’d find myself responsible for holding the picture, often until the next day. I didn’t lose any photos, but the idea still chills me.

Then along came Flip-Pal and picture preserving was never the same. I’m in a different retirement place and have been too busy to scan for others again. But now that I have a Flip-Pal, it would work much better. I could use a public area in the facility, scan people’s pictures, and then hand them right back. I would not have to worry about having their property.

The recent tornadoes in Oklahoma got me thinking. We lived in towns in Oklahoma for several years and really liked the people there. I’d tell people I was “an Okie by druthers,” that is, that I wasn’t from there, but it would be my favorite place to settle. One of the news programs showed a man digging through the rubble of his house. The commentator described a certain picture the man was looking for and said he probably wouldn’t have much luck finding it. What a horrible natural disaster. That new story made me want to grab my Flip-Pal, some batteries and scan any pictures people did find in the rubble. Unfortunately my idea won’t work too well since I’m 95 years old, one-legged and use a wheelchair. Even though I’m in good health, I’d be one more person to be taken care of by a hotel or something. Instead my alternative has been daydreaming and I have concocted a plan.

If I was there, people could bring me pictures, maybe damaged, but valuable to them and worth saving. After being saved they would be available for enhancement later. Scanning a lot of pictures, there would be a risk of getting them mixed up. So I thought up a nearly foolproof system. Somebody would bring me a picture. I’d have them write their name and address on a piece of paper, legibly. I’d be firm about having it legible enough that I could read it, without ambiguities. The paper would be smaller than the area the Flip-Pal scans. I’d open the Flip-Pal, put the paper face down, the photo face down on it, and scan. Then take the paper away, put the picture face down, and scan it. Then every scanned picture would be accompanied by a scanned address on a picture that couldn’t very well be mistaken for a different picture. I’d continue scanning people’s pictures and they’d be stored on an SD card. I could then go to a more comfortable place and make color prints of all the scans. Then I could put a print of the picture in an envelope, tape the address (maybe trimmed, but retaining enough of the picture to recognize) on the front, add a stamp and drop it in the mail.

There are variations to my plan. It would be nice to put several prints of the picture in the envelope. Also a note saying how they could contact me and order more prints, either paid or free, depending on my resources and how generous I felt. The same idea would work for enlargements. For big pictures that were on the wall, I’d get them out of the glass, scan in stages and stitch into a single picture.

I present this plan for any user who might want to try it or for the Flip-Pal company. But please, for your own sake, use the address-on-a-print. Then, if you somehow have a mix-up anyway, the address-on-a-print will tell the truth. If you think being careful is good enough, take this bit of advice from my experience — it ain’t. Any method, even this one, can be goofed by getting in a hurry or not paying attention.


One Response to A Passion for Helping Disaster Victims

  1. Kaye Mushalik August 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Love James’ ideas. I especially like the name/address portion. Will keep this in mind in case there is a disaster nearby that I can help at. However, I am still going to try to hit the Senior Centers and Senior homes in the area to get those scanned with my wonderful Flip-Pal.

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