These images were taken on the Momenta Project NOLA: Documenting Nonprofits 2022 workshop in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo © Julia Rendleman/Momenta Workshops 2022.
This has been a tremendous year of growth, hardships, and yes, much happiness, too. Our internship and apprenticeship programs are now starting to flourish after years of development. Progress continues on Rising Oaks, the largest project our affiliate has ever undertaken, and we expect to break ground early in the new year. We purchased the block of land behind our offices that will improve our efficiency and flexibility in building, revolutionizing the way we work. And we are excited to announce the completion of our first home in Jean Lafitte, an area hard-hit by Hurricane Ida, in partnership with Auburn University’s Rural Studio.
First, I must offer our deepest gratitude to philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This year, she donated the largest gift in our history, giving $4.5 million to New Orleans Habitat, as one of 84 Habitat affiliates around the country to receive her support. Her unrestricted gift is a testament to her insights into the work that nonprofits do and the confidence in our work. Every gift is appreciated, but unrestricted funding allows nonprofits to address needs not often met by traditional funding sources. Organizational capacity and equipment needed to do our jobs – such as vehicles or heavy machinery – are desperately needed, and this incredible gift has allowed us to address those needs.
We also received a major donation from Aramco, who reached out to our sister affiliate Bayou Area Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Ida. Their humbling generosity allowed us to respond quickly to urgent needs after the storm and to take on home repair projects that were too big for our normal scope of work. We offer our thanks to both Aramco and Bayou Area Habitat for their support.
The town of Jean Lafitte is a small but vibrant community in southern Jefferson Parish with over 300 years of history. It is a community of fishermen and oil workers who have lived there for generations. The work they do serves not just nearby cities, but the entire country. Last year, it was devastated during Hurricane Ida, with more than half of the homes in the town destroyed. We are partnering with Rural Studio to design homes that are better able to withstand hurricanes and floods. Our goal is to rebuild 40 to 60 homes over the next three to five years, building them to Gold Fortified Standard and elevating them over 12 feet.
Our internship program continues to evolve and grow. As a parent, this program is near and dear to my heart, and seeing young people flourish gives life to our mission “to build communities where families can thrive, in homes they can afford”. We have partnered this summer with the city of New Orleans as a host site for young people who want to learn construction or retail skills. This new program brings interns on to work in our ReStores or on the build site. As their skills improve, interns may be promoted to apprentices, creating a pipeline to regular employment with New Orleans Habitat with full benefits and a living wage. One of our goals is to better reflect the community we live in and serve, and these programs make that possible.
We have learned to live with the complex realities of COVID, but we are still navigating an environment that is highly uncertain and ambiguous. We have taken steps to developing a more agile work environment that can more quickly respond to shifting community needs, which have not diminished over the last two years. This would not have been possible without your support. Thank you for building with us.