Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010- The Thanksgiving Boot Bowl

By, Stacy Golleher, SBP Supporter, and Whitney Craig, SBP Volunteer Coordinator 

There are no people on this earth who are more resourceful than Louisianians.  There is no family that loves to yell at LSU Football more than mine.  My family….we’ve majored in breaking the sound barrier.  We celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday by eating and reflecting the gratitude of our blessings and gifts. We celebrate football on Saturday with a gumbo and carrying around an old gold disco boot.  I said we were loud.  Not normal.

My grandmother is a good ole Catholic woman who had had a brood of seven.  My mom grew up with built in playmates and that didn’t change as siblings were married and babies were born.  We got bigger, “badder” and louder.  And we loved every minute of it.  Holidays are full of dancing, music, love, gumbo, drunken chicken and beer. Sigh. It is so great to be a Cajun. 

Years back, the LSU Tigers would play the University of Arkansas Hogs on the day after Thanksgiving (in recent years, it was moved to Saturday).  Since they say that Louisiana and Arkansas look like the shape of a boot, over the course of the years it was called the Boot Bowl.  The winner of the game received a huge trophy in the shape of a boot.  With that big ole tacky boot trophy….comes some serious bragging rights.  In the SEC, that is part of the trinity….God, Food and Bragging Rights.

On that fateful football Friday, being a good Cajun family, we took the leftover turkey and made a gumbo. My dad stirs the rue until is the perfect color of peanut butter - seriously, there is a Jiff can next to the gumbo pot at all times.  Aunt Fran and Uncle Bill had us all over to watch the game.  By halftime my grandmother was giving chest bumps.  (See above about my statement on normal).  I don’t remember who won the game that year but we had the best time pulling for sides…and making fun of Uncle Bill’s Hog Hat. 

The following year, we had already declared this to be the “Second Annual Family Boot Bowl” and all were prepared for screaming, gumbo and SEC madness.  That morning prior to the game, my Uncle Scott mysteriously disappears.  Right before kick off, he pulls out an old nasty disco Gold Boot he found at a thrift store that morning.  Our own Golden Boot.  The Holy Grail.  The winner of the game keeps to keep the boot for that year.  The year and the score is written in Sharpie on the sole of that nasty shoe. 

But the best part of the trophy is the “Presentation to the Champion” ceremony after.  We put the boot on a pillow and parade it around the pool table in the game room where we have gathered to watch the game.  The champion’s fight song is played.  We should be hired to choreograph the Opening Ceremonies of the next Olympics, clearly.

It is so silly, you have to love it.  Except for maybe my cousin, Stacy, who said it was mortifying having to explain to people why a gold boot was proudly displayed on her parents mantle when friends would come over.

My family.  We even love loudly.  We aren't normal...we are colorful. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010- A Different Kind of Fatigue...

By Whitney Craig, Volunteer Coordinator and Site Supervisor

Whitney (far left) and John meeting with soldiers
volunteering for the day
Last Thursday, November 11, 2010, was no ordinary Thursday (not that any day is ever ordinary at St. Bernard Project) – it was Veteran’s Day. The way we chose to honor and remember such a holiday was to create the amazing opportunity to work alongside people serving our country in a variety of ways – from the United States Secretary of Energy to men and women who served and continue to serve in our United States Armed Forces.

So when the opportunity came along to work on Ms. Mona Lisa Payne's home with veterans and Secretary Chu, I was so pumped! Several of my family members have served in various branches of the military, so respect and honor for the men and women who live to serve our country was instilled in me early in life. These folks do so much for us, our country and our safety. Having the chance to shake hands with a woman who has nursed so many wounded soldiers back to health and teach a man who built camps in Afghanistan how to tape and mud a corner seam - How could one not be moved by such an honor?

Whitney teaching the Secretary
how to mud
If you would have walked by the site that day, you could not have missed us. Some of the volunteers were dressed head to toe in their Army fatigues. Other wore black and gold SBP shirts. All were doing their part to get Ms. Mona Lisa back home.

Each piece of insulation stapled, each sheet of drywall hung, every glob of mud, every beautifully taped seam and each coat of paint helps move a family one step closer to moving home. At lunch time, we welcomed the 320th family home Mr. Kwame and Mrs. Dominique Adansi-Bona. The welcome home party was filled with volunteers, SBP staff, veterans, Sec. Chu and staff from the U.S. Department of Energy.

At one point, they asked all the vets to come to the front of the crowd. There was even a vet from the neighborhood who simply wanted to welcome his neighbor’s home – Sgt. Johnson called him forward too. Then, in true SBP style, the ribbon was cut.

Before volunteers ate their cake and toured the home, Ms. Dominique stepped up to the microphone and led the crowd in singing “America the Beautiful.” The feeling amidst the crowd was one of honor, joy and gratitude. We honored our soldiers, veterans, and country with that song together. We shared in the Adansi-Bona’s joy of coming home after 5 long and challenging years. The whole group shared the gratitude they had for all the volunteers to help get them home, and the gratefulness to all the people who have come to lend their helping hands, and end up connecting to other human hearts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Hand Turkey Competition

Who loves free shirts? Who loves Thanksgiving? Always on the hunt to solve those solvable problems, we at SBP have combined your love of turkey and shirts in our first ever Turkey Hand Drawing Competition. Join the Gobble-Off and you could win the grand prize: A FREE SBP SHIRT!

From now until Thanskgiving, take your best shot! Email photos to homefortheholidays@stbernardproject.org or tweet them to @stbernardproj. To enter a "draw off" with a Marketing Coordinator/drawer extraordinaire, enter "Challenge" in the subject line...

Recent Submissions:
Bridget Nolan, Maryland, SBP Marketing Team (Reppin')

Matt, NY, Age: 9
Kevin, Virginia, SBP Marketing Dept (#1!)

Laura, New Jersey, SBP Volunteer Coordinator

Ben, Massachusetts, Age: 22

Molly, SBP Volunteer Coordinator
Kate, Wisconsin, SBP Development Coordinator

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010- Thanksgiving: The Forgotten Holiday, by Bridget Nolan, SBP Photographer

Turkey Strut
If you haven’t heard, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Maybe it’s the starving AmeriCorps in me, but I am counting down the days till I uninhibitedly stuff my face with some of the best culinary creations known to man. To my surprise though, this wondrous holiday is neglected. Thanksgiving seems to have been forgotten in the quick jump from candy-crazed Halloween, into the overpriced, stressed winter holiday season. Just because Thanksgiving isn’t marketed with giant animatronic lawn turkeys, does not mean that it should be pushed aside. There are millions of reasons why Thanksgiving is the best holiday, but I’ll keep it short and sweet (Mmmm.. sweet potatoes).

There is no stress of having to give gifts. There is also no stress of having to fake your love for Aunt Sadie’s knitted Christmas sweaters, with matching scarf for the dog (oh, only me?). Thanksgiving is about being thankful for the moment. The time spent with family and friends is enough of a gift; and so are those cranberries.

There is no religious attachment. Thanksgiving does not care what your religious beliefs are. You can be Jewish, Christian, Muslim…etc, and you can all call it Thanksgiving, and you can all celebrate it in the same way-- eating till you pass out.

The weather is better. Okay, maybe this doesn’t go for NOLA climate, but back in the real world Thanksgiving is much safer than the winter holiday season. Family members can fly, drive, and even walk to the festivities without the fear of ice, snow, or whatever else might kill them along the way. Winter holiday season, not so much.

Lastly, thanksgiving is the best holiday because it represents togetherness. In the true spirit of American eating habits, our wonderful thanksgiving founders knew how to do it right: good friends, good food, and good times. I hope that you all have a wonderful thanksgiving, and are able to enjoy it with friends and/or family. Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. - William Shakespeare 

As a lover of thanksgiving, I would love to know what your holiday views are! What do you love about Thanksgiving? Or do you like the winter holiday season better? Please respond!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 9, 2010- The Race is on to Get Families Home for the Holidays!

Welcome to the official kickoff of SBP's Home for the Holidays campaign! From now until January 7, 2011 we here at SBP will be working towards our goal of returning 25 families home in time for this holiday season and raising $300,000 to give 15 more families the gift of home and begin their reconstruction.

For five long years, thousands of families throughout the Greater New Orleans area have been in a housing flux. Stripped of their homes after Hurricane Katrina, these families have bounced from FEMA trailers to overcrowded relatives’ homes to rental housing where prices have doubled.  They have made so many sacrifices to stay in their beloved New Orleans, with adequate housing usually getting little priority.

This holiday season, you can help put an end to these sacrifices.  With your help and donations, when we reach our goal of $300,000, we can ensure that 15 families will soon have a place to call home. This will be the last holiday season they will be forced to spend away from their home.

To find out how to get involved:
  • Head to our Home for the Holidays page on www.stbernardproject.org 
  • Follow us on Twitter for our “Holiday Question of the Week” 
  • Follow us on our Facebook Fan page or Profile page and
  • Check us out on YouTube as we will be posting Holiday videos throughout the campaign. 
Finally, we will be having a weekly blog post from someone on staff or a guest writer.  They will be discussing things from what the holidays mean to them to favorite holiday memories.  

Let’s make this a fun and successful holiday season.

Want to get involved?  Have a cool Holiday Question of the Week?  Want to write a guest blog?  All your questions can be answered by contacting:  homefortheholidays@stbernardproject.org.