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

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