Monday, June 25, 2012

New Orleans Still Has Not Healed

This is a guest post by Lindsay Levin, an SBP volunteer and a small business owner and Kindermusik educator in Northern California.

On a recent trip to New Orleans, my best friend and I decided to visit the homes affected by Katrina. We worked with St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit that has rebuilt over 435 homes in the Greater New Orleans area. For my friend, a full-time philanthropist, our visit served as yet another passionate and energetic endeavor to give back. For me, an exhausted business owner, our visit was an opportunity to see if I could rise above the numbing sense of helplessness brought about by the sheer magnitude of the disaster long enough to make a difference.

We drove up to the home of Allan Francis and met his case manager, Sister Frances. At first glance, the house seemed abandoned – another deserted victim of the storm. The windows were boarded up; the house lacked insulation, paint, and even floorboards. This house is $42,000 away from being completely finished, allowing his household of three hard-working adults and two small children to live in a place they can call home.

Mr. Francis is a New Orleans native who spent much of his youth supporting and caring for his younger siblings, Chevelle, 21, and Cherelle, 18. Despite the setbacks of growing up in a tumultuous home and spending his young adulthood displaced by Katrina, Mr. Francis has always had a job and passed along his work ethic to his younger sisters, both of whom are gainfully employed. Earning minimum wage salaries, Mr. Francis and his sisters managed to save over $5,000 to purchase this home last July. Without Allan's purchase, the home would most likely have been auctioned off or demolished.

Mr. Francis salvaged and refinished the house's beautiful front door, fixed the fence in the back yard, and invested time and money into electrical and plumbing for the house. "[Finishing this home] would mean so much," says Mr. Francis. "It would mean giving my little nieces a stable place to grow up, not like me and my sisters." Mr. Francis is still scrimping and saving to help make his dream a reality. "People [in this neighborhood] are working and really trying. Since I purchased the house in July of last year, I've been saving, living paycheck to paycheck. Me and my sisters have been putting every dime into this project."

The house is a symbol for the quietly fighting spirit of the Francis family, and we realized we could help make this rebuild complete. I pledged the first $100, and Anna volunteered to donate $2,000. That leaves $39,900 needed for building supplies to get Mr. Francis and his family home. You can help, too!

Volunteers from around the country enthusiastically await the opportunity to rebuild homes like Mr. Francis’, but St. Bernard Project needs to raise the funds first. Join us in helping rebuild homes and lives by donating to SBP. Until all of the families are home in New Orleans, the city’s social fabric will not be healed. Please email Ashley Bellant or call 504-277-6831 for more information about how you can help SBP bring families like Mr. Francis’ home!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cheer for Ben Crane! Click for SBP!

With just a few clicks, you can bring a family home.

Sometimes, it really is just that easy.

Long-time supporter and incredible golf player, Ben Crane (left), is once again working with SBP along with Zurich to get a New Orleans family back on the fairway. Ben Crane is one of seven Golf Ambassadors participating in the Zurich Charity Cup. Each player designates a charity of choice and whoever wins receives $30,000. Importantly, this is enough to rebuild one family’s house.

Here’s where you come in: this is an online voting competition, which means that you are the determining factor whether or not SBP gets $30,000. With just a few clicks, you can bring a family home. And the best part is…there’s no limit to how many times you can vote.

It’s easy. Just:
1) Go to the website 
2) Click on Ben Crane's image to choose the team that you're supporting
3) Click 'Cheer'
4) If you are not a bot, enter the security code and click “Cheer Here”
5) If you are a bot, we appreciate your support, but understand that you can’t help us in this case.
6) Repeat
7) And repeat
8) Congratulate yourself and know that you have our immense gratitude for your help. Every click brings a family closer to a Welcome Home Party like Ms. Ceaser's (right).

Our very own magnificent media wizard Britney Gedeon cheered 41 times in 5 minutes. Can you beat that?

The competition ends June 25th. Whoever gathers the most cheers will win the $30,000 prize.

So, please, visit the site every week and spend 15 minutes 'Cheering' for SBP and Ben Crane. Funding is the greatest barrier between homeowners and rebuilding their storm-devastated houses. By taking just 15 minutes a week to cheer, you’ll be directly contributing to bringing a hardworking family home. Thank you!

Friday, April 6, 2012

One more Lakeview home restored

During my second week at SBP last October, I and several other new AmeriCorps members were asked to work with clients to write brief biographies about their lives before and after Hurricane Katrina. These interviews were an eye-opening introduction to some of the many reasons homeowners still weren't home. The first homeowner I spoke with was Mr. Brian, a retiree who had run out of funds before elevating and rebuilding his Lakeview home of more than forty years.

The house was completely destroyed by the floodwaters that inundated his neighborhood when a section nearby 17th Street Canal levee collapsed. I vividly remember seeing muddy waterlines all the way up to the eaves of the roofs of Lakeview homes in early 2006 (right) when I returned to the city for the first time.

I knew this October as I started at SBP that the recovery wasn’t over, but I didn’t have faces to put with that knowledge—speaking with Brian made the slow recovery personal. He had been able to demolish his old home, lay a foundation and raise pillars to elevate a house upon, but then his funding ran out.

In the fall, SBP’s skilled construction crews began framing a new home atop those pillars. In November two AmeriCorps site supervisors took over work and began the insulation, drywall, mudding and more that was needed to complete the home along with the help of volunteers from across the country, including Olivet College, Wheelock College, St. John's Lutheran in Sweet Air, Boston College, Loyola Law, and many, many others.

Even through the winter, when volunteer numbers were sometimes low and occasionally only the site supervisors were at work, Brian had fresh coffee made for them every day and any tool imaginable available for their use every day.

Brian's home was finished last month, and we just threw a Welcome Home Party for him (left)! We welcomed him home with cake, housewarming gifts, and more than 75 volunteers. Speaking about his new house, Brian said, “I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the magnificence of it.”

It’s amazing thing to have seen Lakeview completely destroyed after the storm more than six years ago and now to have been there for this process from the early stages of construction to completion. I’m so glad to have been a part of helping one more New Orleanian move home, and I hope to see many more happy returns in the future as we help every family come home!

--Sarah, SBP AmeriCorps member and Communications Coordinator

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Miss Evelyn

I met her for the first time in August, as an AmeriCorps member at St. Bernard Project. She spoke tenderly about the rebuilding work that had been completed at her home in St. Bernard Parish. She was astonished that so many volunteers from all around the country would come down and help, just out of the kindness of their hearts.

"When I walk in to the house, I know that the walls are filled with love. I can feel it. I watched as some of the volunteers constructed the house, they come from all over, down here to help me. I saw the writing on the walls from the volunteers, and I wanted to keep it. The next time I was there they was gone, but I just know those walls are filled with love. They don't even know me."

Her brown eyes welled up and I could see the drops collect along her lashes as she wiped the tears away. She had brassy gray hair that was short and fell around her aged face. She sat in the maroon leather chair in front of me and I carefully studied her facial expression and physical responses to the emotion she felt. Each reaction left me thinking about the millions of people in New Orleans and surrounding Parishes, affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Miss Evelyn was no older than 65, with so many stories in her eyes.

She apologized for crying, and I was tempted to assure her that was not needed. Instead, I gently touched the top of her hand, and she looked up. Wiping her eyes one more time, taking one large inhale as her ribcage expanded, she began to speak again.

"All I want is to be back in my home."

Back to her kitchen to cook her family dinners with her large counter top. Back to the closet that connected her room and what was once her daughter's room. Back to the home that was destroyed 6 years ago by the floods of Hurricane Katrina and levee breakage.

A sanctuary where her memories were still captured in the foundation and framework. Where new celebrations could happen because people showed altruism and connection. The room that was once occupied by her daughter as she grew, would now be taken by her 1 year-old grand-son. The kitchen would be cooked in, and the dining room would host Thanksgiving and Louisiana shrimp boils with all of the family invited.

Miss Evelyn's mother died this past May. Her mother was going to stay in the house with her. Miss Evelyn planned on taking care of her mama, just as she did after Katrina.

"I know there's been angels all along the way to help me, and now my Mama's up there watching over as the last pieces to the house gets done. She'd be happy."

With a sweet smile, she waltzed in to my office to tell me her story, and to ask for my help with this last stretch of getting her home. It’s not easy hearing the stories of SBP’s clients, or for anyone in New Orleans helping with rebuilds. But, in the past 7 months, I’ve watched lives be transformed as the framework is fixed to standards, the walls are put up, houses are painted, and after 6 years, our homeowners are able to begin stabilizing their lives again.

Miss Evelyn's heartbreak, love and compassion, made me miss my home in Syracuse, NY.

Home is about family, struggles, love, laughter, hugs, conflict, smiles,
and always having a place to go back to. Bring families home in New Orleans, donate to SBP.

--by Jessica Leigh, Client Services Coordinator (at right at an SBP Welcome Home Party)

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Big Week at SBP, Part 2

… And now, for the rest of the story:

On Friday, SBP held a press conference celebrating its partnership and accomplishments made with Toyota. Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) President Shigeki Terashi, and Toyota Product System Support Center (TSSC) President Akinori Saito, were hosted as guests of honor by SBP, the City of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana. TSSC is the consulting arm of Toyota North America that has been working with SBP since last summer to improve our construction efficiency. To celebrate the partnership, Pat Forbes from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, State Representative Jared Brossett of District 97, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu all attended.

Kicking off the event, Mayor Landrieu (shown with Liz McCartney and Shigeki Terashi at right) said, “It’s not enough to be well intentioned. In a world where there’s less, you have to learn to do more.” No mistakes can be afforded when these decisions and initiatives deal with people’s humanity.

His Honor stated, “The bottom line is you just have to keep moving,” and that the nation is looking to New Orleans to pioneer and lead by example disaster recovery in America.

TSSC General Manager, Jamie Benini, announced the partnerships’ major accomplishments. He said that TSSC had two primary objectives with SBP, 1) to increase the number of houses built and 2) to decrease the time it took to build a house. In the past year, Toyota has helped reduce the average time it takes SBP to build a house from 160 days to 60 days and increased the number of houses built in a month from 8.6 to 12.8. Both measurements represent a 50% improvement.

“We judge not by the cars we make,” Jamie said, “but by the people we help.”

Pat Forbes spoke briefly on behalf of the Office of Community Development (OCD). As one of SBP’s primary funders through its Neighborhood Revitalization Pilot Program, OCD, “Sees results and we are thrilled.” The OCD is glad to tell the nation that, “Yes, we’re doing the best we can with the money you gave us.”

Standing in the backyard of her as yet incomplete house, Courtenay LaRoche thanked everyone in attendance for their support and generosity. She made a special point of recognizing SBP Site Supervisors Catherine Denial and Marshall Bartlett (at left with Courtenay), who are doing a
phenomenal job rehabilitating her home. Ms. Courtenay told her story, how she and her family had to spend six years in Texas away from their home in New Orleans, how she’d been robbed, how dishonest contractors stole her money, how her children had to grow up without the childhood they deserved.

“Thank you for doing what you do for us,” Ms. Courtenay said.

After applause for Ms. Courtenay, Representative Jared Brossett of Louisiana's 97th District presented a formal commendation on behalf of the Louisiana House of Representatives to Toyota for its outstanding service to our community.

As a final highlight to this spectacular occasion, Toyota presented SBP with $100,000 to continue getting the job done by bringing people home.

Closing the ceremony, our CEO Zack echoed the sentiment of the day, “Thank you, Toyota. Let’s move forward.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Big Week at SBP, Part 1

Some weeks are good and some are a challenge. Occasionally, you have a very challenging week where you can’t help but be proud to be a part of St. Bernard Project’s family. Last week was one of those.

This is, more or less, what happened:

On Thursday a group of 18 volunteers from SBP’s affiliate, Rebuild Joplin, came to volunteer with us in New Orleans (right) and learn more about SBP’s model. That evening we welcomed home Mary Jones. The next day we held a press conference in Courtenay LaRoche’s backyard celebrating our partnership with Toyota at which stakeholders, government officials, and the Mayor of New Orleans were in attendance.

Yeah. It was big.

We’re all a bit tired around the office, but we wanted to take a moment and give you the rundown.

Rebuild Joplin, founded just days after the May 11, 2011 tornado devastated their community, has been working closely with SBP to learn about disaster recovery and nonprofit construction. On Thursday, March 1st, Rebuild Joplin’s administration along with community volunteers and stakeholders came to work on SBP’s sites. An Associated Press reporter did a fantastic article on the visit. We gave them a tour of our facilities
and we told them about our hard-earned best practices in disaster recovery. And we invited them to attend one of SBP’s greatest celebrations: Mary Jones’ welcome home party (left).

Including Rebuild Joplin and Toyota representatives, there were well over a hundred volunteers and supporters from across the nation in attendance. Director of Development, Emilie Tenenbaum, thanked the crowd for “being part of the solution and the renaissance of this city.”

“Why rebuild New Orleans?” SBP Site Supervisor, Josh Chiero, asked and then gestured over his shoulder toward Mary Jones’ kitchen. “There’s sweet potato pie in the oven.” If sharing food and friendship together is not worth the effort of rebuilding, nothing is.

This was a particularly meaningful Welcome Home party for yours truly. At the beginning of my AmeriCorps term I spent my day of service, September 11th, working on Mary Jones’ house. At the time, you could still see the rafters and insulation through empty patches in the recently-applied drywall. It was incredible to see the phenomenal work that Josh and volunteers from Missouri, Chicago, Washington DC, Michigan, and many more places across the country

have accomplished with the help of funding from United Way. And while volunteers feasted on Mary's fantastic pie, her son Paul talked with the Rebuild Joplin group and signed shirts for a few members of the group (right).

It was a great day, and the week wasn't over yet. To be continued on Friday…

--By Sam, SBP Development Coordinator and AmeriCorps Member

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mardi Gras Party Drink Recipes

Having spent the last few weeks promoting Mardi Gras parties, we decided to share some of our favorite New Orleans drink recipes. In our last blog post, we shared great recipes for pralines and gumbo. To go along with those dishes, or perhaps with some classic New Orleans-style red beans and rice, we've put together some drink recipes that are well known by city residents and visitors alike (and meant only for those over 21).

New Orleans Hurricane
1 oz white rum
1 oz Jamaican dark rum
1 oz Bacardi® 151 rum
3 oz orange juice
3 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 oz grenadine syrup
crushed ice
Directions: Combine ingredients and mix well. Pour over crushed ice in hurricane glass and garnish with fruit.

Bloody Mary
1.5 oz vodka (remove vodka for a still-tasty virgin version if you’re under 21)
.25 oz lemon juice
2 dashes of Worcestershire
4 dashes of Tabasco
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
4 oz tomato juice
Directions: Add the liquid ingredients to a highball glass over ice cubes and mix well. Add the seasonings to taste, and garnish with lemon and/or lime wedge and celery stalk. You can also add olives, spicy pickled green beans, pearl onions—the sky’s the limit when it comes to Bloody Mary garnishes in New Orleans!

Make and enjoy! What are your favorite New Orleans drinks?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Welcome Home Sharon Taylor Rachal!

As the resident Welcome Home Party Planner and an AmeriCorps member, my favorite part about working at SBP is meeting the homeowners we serve. I can’t think of a homeowner who has faced more tragedies on the journey to return home than Sharon Taylor-Rachal. Since Katrina, she lost not only her home, but also her husband--and at one point, she was told she wouldn’t walk again after an injury.

I was deeply saddened when I first heard her story. Then, I met Sharon. Her smile lights up any room and she approaches life with such joy and gratitude. Her resiliency truly amazes me, and her determination is inspiring.

At her Welcome Home Party, it was clear that Sharon’s home would be filled with family, love, and celebrations for years to come. Her beautiful new home was bursting with family and neighbors, and of course no party in New Orleans would be complete without a giant pot of gumbo. And wow! Can Sharon cook! Her pralines are probably the best I’ve had in New Orleans. It wasn’t the food that made this party special, though--it was the generosity, gratitude, and love that were genuinely expressed by all.

The family friend who recommended SBP to Sharon's cousin, who passed the word on to Sharon, joined us for the party--but it was actually the first time the two women met. Sharon greeted the woman with a big, warm hug as she entered the room and said that without her none of this would have been possible.

It always amazes me how all the small actions (or big actions) of people can positively change someone’s life – the volunteers who dedicated time, United Way, Days of Our Lives, and Smucker’s who invested in this family, and the crew of 21 Jump St that helped furnish Sharon’s new home. Leaving the party, I felt lucky to share this joyous moment of celebration with Sharon and her family.

With Mardi Gras approaching, I hope you think of FAMILIES in New Orleans, the homemade gumbo, the homemade pralines (right), and the gratitude of the people’s lives you have impacted as part of the SBP Krewe.

Share in the joy of Mardi Gras and bring families and friends together. This praline recipe is as good an excuse as any to bring people together to celebrate. Just add some delicious gumbo from the New Orleans restaurant Zoe, and you’ll have a great party of your own.

Want more tips for your party? As the SBP resident party planner (okay, and fundraiser), myself and my hardworking co-workers put together this awesome toolkit of ideas just for you.

Thank you!
--Angie, SBP AmeriCorps member and Development Coordinator

P.S. By the way, I think it’s totally appropriate to host a Mardi Gras Themed party any time of year-especially if you aren’t in New Orleans.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mardi Gras Memories

With less than two weeks to go before Mardi Gras, we decided to ask our homeowners and staff members for their favorite Carnival memories. Well, specifically, I have been asked to gather Mardi Gras memories. And by “I,” I mean Sam, the grant writer – pleased to meet you.

You may be surprised to learn that this task is actually rather difficult. There are two reasons for this: either people don’t remember their favorite Mardi Gras memory (for one reason or another) or there are too many. Primarily, the latter. Not being a New Orleanian myself, I decided to just ask people, “What is your favorite Mardi Gras memory?” The universal response was a meaningful stare: Did you really just ask that question? Do you actually expect me to choose just one?

Well, with some trying, I did get a few answers.

Cynthia Dellavalle (Homeowner, left), a native New Orleanian, has been attending Mardi Gras ever since she was a child and would ride on the floats. For years she and her family have gone to the Endymion and Bacchus parades, staking out the same area near the parades’ ends so that they could collect from the riders who hadn’t distributed all their handouts. She would always take her children to their favorite events, but “Mardi Gras day is just for me.” For four years she continued visiting Mardi Gras even when she lived hours away in Mississippi. Having just moved back to St. Bernard Parish, she says, “The meaning [of Mardi Gras] has changed. It means home, now.”

Adrian (Site Supervisor / Office Man): “There are too many. My family’s from New Orleans. But my favorite memory is that one Mardi Gras my friends and I were at a parade where one float was throwing gigantic stuffed animals. They were these gaudy, sparkly, fuzzy things. My friends and I stood on the curb waving our arms shouting, ‘Hey Mister! Throw me a fuzzy creature!’ We didn’t get one, but we were so close. It’s still a good memory.”

Sarah (Social Media Guru): “It's hard to decide which Mardi Gras season was my favorite--but I don't think I've ever been in a place full of happier people than when Drew Brees paraded as king of Bacchus one week after the Saints won the Super Bowl. The happiness of the crowds that night was unbelievable, and I'm so glad I was able to be a part of such a great celebration--even if I didn't get one of the mini footballs Drew was throwing from the float.”

Ashley (Front Desk Coordinator, aka the Woman Who Makes Everything Work): Ashley grew up in Uptown, just a block away from the parade routes. Every Mardi Gras she and her family would set up a tent on the neutral ground (the median) to watch the events. Growing up, she says, “My biggest dream was to be a baton twirler,” because her mother had been a fire twirler. She made her dream come true by serving as captain of the Majorette’s at McDonogh High School.

My first Mardi Gras memory? I grew up in Iowa. My first Mardi Gras memory is envy.

What are your favorite Mardi Gras memories? Share them here or share them with us on Monday night, February 13 from 6-9 pm at an SBP happy hour event at Irish House on St Charles Avenue!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Join Our Krewe

In case you didn’t know, we’re in Carnival Season. We have, once again, all arrived safely at the best time of the year. It is your task, now, to survive until March. If you pull that off, we’re fairly certain that New Orleans itself will take care of the entertainment. If you are not in New Orleans, we encourage you to carry on as if you were—read on for ideas how to do so.

St. Bernard Project is wholeheartedly participating in this patently New Orleans celebration. Thus…

We invite you to Join Our Krewe.

But what, oh wise SBP blog, does that mean? We’re very glad you asked (or, that you’re still reading). There are three (3) ways you can Join Our Krewe.

1) Throw a Mardi Gras Party
If you’re not in New Orleans, this is the part where you bring New Orleans to your neighborhood. Yes, we want you to throw a party. Invite all your friends. Depending on the nature of the party, invite your family.

Keep an eye on our blog for New Orleanian food and drink recipes to add the necessary Crescent City spice to your Mardi Gras Party. Over the next couple weeks the staff will be posting their favorite local food and drink recipes, along with stories from our homeowners about favorite Mardi Gras memories.

And, while you’re having a great time, fundraise for SBP to bring struggling families home. It’s that easy – throw a party and do a great service at the same time. Tell guests you’re committed to raising money for SBP and having a good time. You could even approach a local restaurant owner about throwing a fundraising party at their establishment—raise money to bring families home and get a business kick with a party. Everyone wins.

Like the idea? We thought you would. We’ll be posting more about this over the next few weeks, and in the meantime check out our website for more Mardi Gras fundraising information, or email for tips.

2) Volunteer in the Big Easy
The party doesn’t end with Mardi Gras for SBP. Spring Break season is almost here. Hosts of volunteers from across the country will arrive to support SBP and rebuild the Most Unique City in America. And we want you to be there.

From now until the end of June, SBP will work at maximum capacity, building more houses faster and thus bringing more families home. But we can only do that if you come down and volunteer—register here.

3) “Throw Me Something, Mister!” (i.e. Donate)
A tip if you’re new to Mardi Gras traditions – especially if you happen to find yourself unexpectedly at a parade: if you want a throw from a float rider, look them in the eye and shout, “Throw me something, mister!”

That said, throw us something, mister!

SBP relies on volunteers to rehabilitate houses, and we couldn’t do it without you. But we need donations, too. Imagine coming to volunteer on a site with no nails? How many houses could we build without lumber? What if we didn’t have insulation? Drywall? Hammers? Pipes? How about Gatorade?

Please, if you are opposed to parties and cannot stop by to volunteer, throw us something. $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, whatever you can.

One of our homeowners, Cindy Dellavalle (below), recently moved home with volunteer support and donations from around the world. For years after Katrina she lived in Mississippi. Every year she made an hours-long pilgrimage to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Now that she’s home, Cindy says, “[Mardi Gras] means something different, now. It means home…”

Help more New Orleanians celebrate their city’s festival at home by donating.

Thank you all! Happy Carnival!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three more families welcomed home!

SBP kicked off the New Year with a big few weeks! We are so excited to have welcomed home three families already this year.

The Crafts evacuated to a shelter in Mississippi with 15 extended family members before Katrina and ended up staying there for more than 8 months. We're so glad they are now home in St. Claude with their 2 children!

Known for going out of their way to help others in need, the Kings are also now home. We were so proud to welcome such a generous family home on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service in recognition of their commitment to their community.

Cynthia Dellevalle is home, too. She does not have to drive from Mississippi to visit her grandchildren now, see her church community, or celebrate beloved New Orleans traditions like Mardi Gras.

Thank you for all that you have done to help us make these days possible for our inspiring homeowners. We're looking forward to many more homecoming celebrations in 2012 thanks to the support of our partners like United Way, our donors, and our dedicated volunteers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Patrón Tequila Express stops through New Orleans

The Patrón Tequila Express railcar is stopped in New Orleans today! The vintage train car belongs to the owner of Patrón Spirits Company, John Paul DeJoria. It is occasionally used for promotional tours by the company when Patron holds events around the country.

Due to St. Bernard Project’s partnership with Patrón, a couple of SBP staffers were invited to come check out the restored 1926 railcar this afternoon. The Express is parked in the station at Decatur and Esplanade, right in the French Quarter and only a stone’s throw away from the French Market!

You can see the whole New Orleans skyline from the top of the car!

Patrón has been a great sponsor of SBP and our work. They've made generous financial contributions, in-kind donations of product for special events, and held several fundraisers for SBP. In fact, in 2008, Patrón hosted a series of fundraisers across the country aboard the Patrón Tequila Express to raise funds for SBP's rebuilding program.

Thanks Patrón for having us out to the Express today, and we're looking forward to the events Patrón will have in New Orleans in the future!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Progress Update on the Stroder Home Rebuild

James talks with a group of volunteers from
Glover Park Group in early December.
As a native of the Ninth Ward, Jimmy Stroder has spent his entire life in New Orleans. Jimmy chose to raise his five children in the same neighborhood where he grew up. For thirty years, Jimmy worked his way up through the ranks of the Housing Authority of Louisiana.

The house with only framing completed in late November.
Jimmy lived through previous hurricanes and did not to evacuate as Hurricane Katrina approached. As he surveyed the damage at his home after the storm passed, though, Jimmy realized that he could not stay in such a badly damaged home.

The interior of the Stroder home once
insulation was installed in early December.
He walked downtown through flooded streets. He eventually spent three days sleeping outside of the Convention Center before being evacuated to Arkansas. He then spent several years living in Texas. He traveled weekly to New Orleans to supervise construction on a home he purchased, as his first home was too damaged to be rebuilt.
Drywall was installed in mid-December.
Mudding began at the home in late December,
just a few weeks after construction began.

Jimmy worked hard to closely supervise the project, but he fell victim to contractor fraud like many others. Having spent his entire life building homes, he couldn't afford to rebuild his own.

After losing everything to crooked contractors, Jimmy turned to SBP for help rebuilding, and his home is now under construction. These photos show the progress made since construction began in late November. SBP staff and volunteers from Glover Park Group, Immaculata University, the Georgia Tech MBA program, and several other groups have worked very hard to move the construction process along quickly with funding from United Way. We're very excited that Jimmy will be able to return home soon to spend time relaxing with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!