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.

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