Happy New Year!
Next year will prove to be a major year in our affiliate’s ongoing commitment to New Orleans. With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the event that brought support and attention from around the world to NOAHH, we hope to honor both the losses from the storm and progress that has occurred in the last 10 years, making the year one of remembrance and commemoration. Much of what we have accomplished this year has been setting the stage for what comes next, and though our focus was looking forward, we still accomplished much throughout the city in terms of homes built, repaired, or rehabbed, and in other projects that further our mission.
As of the end of 2014, NOAHH has completed 16 new homes, rehabbed 3, and finished 37 A Brush With Kindness projects. Our Habitat Urban Gardens program has expanded to include 34 lots in use by 14 individuals and organizations. These programs make up the heart of our mission, directly addressing community needs and fighting poverty housing by creating neighborhoods and communities with affordable and safe homes and useful resources that help prevent blight and crime. By focusing on more than home-building, NOAHH combats the issues surrounding poverty housing, the factors that create it, and the central issue itself. Our year has been an eventful one, and the many events we organized, participated in, or hosted all had one goal: to end poverty housing.
In spring, NOAHH continued our annual Attack the Block program, during which students from universities around the country helped clear out three neighborhood parks and their surroundings during March (the third was sadly rained out). Students collected 685 bags of garbage, removed 135 tires and other bulk items, cleared 96 sidewalks and cleaned 60 storm drains, filling three 30-foot dumpsters. They planted 45 vegetable beds, built 20 garden beds (and a bench!), and delivered 86 bundles of produce to members of the community. They also helped repair a 6,000 sq. ft. basement in a local church. Their efforts were made possible through partnerships with neighborhood groups, and the students worked side-by-side with people from each neighborhood.
Though initially scheduled for May, rain delays meant our second annual ROMP fundraiser ended up in June. The Hot 8 Brass Band, featuring NOAHH partner family Terrell Batiste, played the main stage, while the 610 Stompers opened the event. Dozens of teams contended in backyard games from cornhole to relay races for the Golden Hammer and a week’s vacation at a Florida condo. The event was free and open to the public as spectators, with food and drink for sale. All funds raised went to support NOAHH’s mission.
The ReStore Art Show continued to connect NOAHH to the community by partnering first with local schools and later with local artists. The first, held in March, saw NOAHH partnering with students from Metairie Park Country Day and Academy of the Sacred Heart, showcasing their work. Funds were split between NOAHH and the student artists, and a piece by local artist Michalopoulos was held for auction. The second, held in September, at Coq Rouge Gallery, featured work made with objects from our ReStore from many local artists, music, and food, and featured an auction with all proceeds going to NOAHH. Both art events combined fundraising opportunities with outreach, allowing NOAHH to support local art and spread word about the ReStore.
In October, sponsor and partner Advil joined NOAHH for Boo and Build, a Halloween-themed build with a costume contest and tarot card reader for the volunteers. Advil’s #ReliefInAction team helped build homes and had a great time. Other major sponsored builds included construction company Lafarge and dental equipment makers Dentsply. GE Capital also joined NOAHH for a major work day and helped us swear in our AmeriCorps for the 2014-2015 year. NOAHH also continued our partnerships with longtime supporters like RHINO and the National Association of Realtors, while creating new ones with local clothing store Dirty Coast and the players at Le Petit Theatre. Also among our local partners are the New Orleans Mission and NET Charter School, whose programs to help locals-in-need use volunteer experiences on Habitat work sites, and St. Roch CDC, who joined NOAHH in completing a home for Pastor JB Watkins. Other major volunteer groups included Crossroads Cincinnati, Give Back Cincinnati, the US Marine Corps, local hotels, Tulane University, Mt. Carmel Academy, and more. Over the course of the year, 7,549 individuals volunteered with NOAHH for a total of 16,588 instances, or 132,704 volunteer hours!
All of these partnerships, events, and activities contributed to over 50 families served directly through our programs and so many more indirectly, through the fresh produce from the garden lots, the beautification of their neighborhoods, the arrival of their new neighbors in the form of our partner families, or many of the other benefits of having safe, affordable homes in their communities.
As we move into 2015, NOAHH remains focused on our mission to end poverty housing in the New Orleans area. With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon, and our anticipated 100th ABWK project, it will be another milestone year for our affiliate and community. We are looking forward to working with new and old partners to make the elimination of poverty housing in New Orleans a reality. We wish to say thank you one more time this year to everyone who contributed to our affiliate this year, with time and hard work, with financial support through donations or shopping at the ReStore, or by spreading the word. Have a Happy New Year!