As noted in an earlier post, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans was unbelievable, but just as impressive from my recent visit there was the vibrant spirit of rebuilding by committed residents and organizations. As promised, here are some ideas on what you can do to help in this effort:
- Visit, eat and listen to music. This one’s easy. If you’re planning on going somewhere for a vacation, why not visit New Orleans? It’s beautiful, home to the mighty Mississippi with interesting architecture and neighborhoods, has excellent restaurants seemingly on every block and is the birthplace of jazz. I’ve noticed that a lot of organizations are having conferences in New Orleans, so maybe that’s another way for you to visit. You’ll have a great time and be supporting the local economy.
- Participate in a work project. United Way and many faith-based groups have hosted Spring Break service projects for young people, and groups such as Habitat for Humanity provide regular opportunities for helping out in the rebuilding process. HandsOnNewOrleans is another resource you may want to look into if you’re interested in volunteering.
- Tell people about what you’ve seen and advocate for federal support. This was the most common response when I asked people in New Orleans about what people from outside Louisiana could do to help in the recovery effort. As highlighted in the previous post, there are specific issues to weigh in on, such as the pending expiration of 14,000 Disaster Housing Assistance Program housing vouchers, which would immediately put thousands more people at risk of falling into homelessness. A colleague who works in the recovery effort also recommended The Equity and Inclusion Campaign, a regional nonpartisan advocacy initiative that bulletins and call to action alerts.
- Donate to the recovery effort. If you are compelled to make a financial contribution to the long-term recovery effort, you may want to look into donating to an intermediary that provides support for a broad base of groups, such as the United Way or the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. It’s always difficult to single out specific groups, because so many are deserving of support, but if you are interested in helping the most vulnerable residents of New Orleans I can recommend UNITY of Greater New Orleans , which is doing great, vital work to move people from the streets to permanent housing.