Gonzales Middle student reunites friend, mother

By Michael Tortorich
The Ascension Citizen

Gonzales Middle eighth-grader Hanna Lambert was watching a news program
three Saturdays ago when a familiar name appeared on the screen.

CNN had been showing the names, and some photos, of missing children
following Hurricane Katrina. When the name Tia Franklin appeared without
a photo, Lambert instantly thought of her new classmate from New Orleans.

When Lambert returned to school the following Monday, she told Franklin
about what she had seen.

“I was at my brother’s house Saturday morning and noticed her name with
the missing children,” Lambert said. “It said she was missing, but I knew
she was at school and that she was safe. I came to school Monday and told
her about it.”

Franklin had evacuated from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to Texas with
her grandmother and an uncle. Her mother, Claudette Franklin, went to
Columbia, Miss. in search of a place to live. After they separated, they
lost contact with each other.

Principal Charles Barbera and assistant principal Lori Charlet helped the
students contact CNN and find Franklin’s mother.

Barbera called CNN and spoke with a missing persons representative who
directed him to the Red Cross Web site. They listed Franklin’s mother as
missing and Franklin as safe on the site.

That night, Charlet accessed the site and found a note from Claudette on
the site with a phone number.

“I called her aunt and we all got really excited,” Charlet said.

Charlet informed them that Franklin was enrolled at Gonzales Middle
School and living in an apartment in Gonzales.

The next day at school, Charlet told Franklin that she had found her
mother and allowed her to call. Franklin cried tears of joy when she
heard her mother’s voice over the phone.

The mother and daughter were reunited Wednesday, Sept. 21 when Claudette
came to school with Tia’s aunts, Shirley Wells and Paulette Carson.
Claudette also brought a sterling silver heart necklace as a gift for
Lambert.

Lambert knows how it feels to lose a loved one, especially after her
father, Lakin, died last year at 49 after a three-year bout with
pancreatic cancer.

Also, the school presented Lambert with a humanitarian award for her
efforts in initiating the reunion.

Copyright © 2005 Ascension Citizen

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