During their Welcome Home party last month, Robert and Geraldine Starks stood on their front porch in utter disbelief.Robert, a Vietnam veteran who stayed behind after the storm to help his neighbors evacuate, and Geraldine, celebrating a year of remission after a hard-fought battle with cancer, could not seem to fathom the fact that they were finally moving home. It had been nine years.
Like 60% of SBP’s clients, the Starks turned their insurance payout over to a crooked contractor, and were left with nothing but a half-built home that they could not afford to complete on their own. Their limited income went to medical bills and paying their rent.
The Starks are one of 560 families who, thanks to the unwavering support of our donors and volunteers, once again sleep soundly in their own bed, knowing the peace and comfort that only comes from being home.
The couple wore matching “USA” t-shirts - a reminder that their citizenship, their humanity, once again meant something.
SBP was built on the belief that all of us are hardwired to prevent harm, solve problems and help others. Every day you remind us that this is true - that despite all the destruction from Katrina and wrongs that were done in the aftermath, there are still people who stand by, ready to help.
And we still need your help. We need your help because it has been nine years and there are over 100 families on our waiting list. And we need your help because we receive a minimum of 15 new calls every single week from families seeking assistance. The average age of the person calling is 63 years. These is a real, ongoing problem and we cannot solve it without your help.
I am proud of what SBP has accomplished since Katrina. I’m especially proud to see how the lessons learned here in New Orleans are causing impact in other communities:
- SBP’s affiliate, Rebuild Joplin, will complete the recovery in Joplin in December of this year. The recovery, slated to take five years, will be complete in three-and-a-half.
- Our Superstorm Sandy recovery operations have rebuilt over 100 homes in Rockaway, Staten Island and Monmouth County, NJ.
- Thanks to the generous support of Zurich Insurance Group, SBP will soon be working in new communities through our Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab. SBP will conduct trainings designed to help homeowners, small to mid-sized businesses and community leaders understand and mitigate risk prior to disaster. After disasters, SBP will work in impacted communities to implement our documented, standardized and proven-effective model.
We have made progress, to be sure - but there is still much work to be done. Nine years have passed since Katrina, and there are still families wondering, “What will it take to move home?”
SBP has the answer. With $25,000 in building supplies, 150 volunteers and an average of 61 days, we can move a family back into their home. This is where we still need your help.
Please donate to help more families like the Starks move home.
We urge you to think about your own family on this 9th anniversary - to think about what lengths you would go to if your parents, your grandparents, were still fighting to get home.
We believe this is a solvable problem, and by donating, you are part of the solution.
Zack Rosenburg & Liz McCartney
p.s. Please remember that investing in SBP impacts the way communities everywhere prepare for and recover from disasters. SBP has rebuilt more than 800 homes nationally, but we can all do more.
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Here are 3 simple ways you can help more families like the Starks move home:
1. Please consider making a donation at stbernardproject.org/donate. Every donation helps bring a family that much closer to home.
2. Go to www.crowdrise.com/stbernardproject and start an online fundraising campaign. It’s quick and easy – and donations go straight to SBP.
3. Throw a party! This is New Orleans, after all. Host a get-together and ask folks to donate. There are folks at SBP who can help you plan this option and give you all the tools you need to make your party a success.
Your donation will help move families from the waiting list and into their homes. There are still over 100 families on the waiting list in New Orleans who really need your help.