pulling Together after disaster strikes
The Junior Leagues Rebuilding New Orleans Together
The Junior League of New Orleans and Others
Issue Area(s): Leadership Development, Voluntarism, Disaster Recovery
Awards: 2007 Community Impact Honorable Mention
In the immediate aftermath of Katrina hitting New Orleans, The Junior League of New Orleans hosted more than 1,000 volunteers—including 600 Junior League members and others from across the U.S., Canada and the U.K.—for a weeklong revitalization effort called The Junior Leagues Rebuilding New Orleans Together. League volunteers worked in some of the most devastated parts of the city, particularly around the Freret Street neighborhood that is home to the JLNO Thrift Shop.
JLNO partners for this project included 74 Leagues (represented by 600 volunteers) from across the United States, Canada and the U.K. This core group of volunteers was joined by an additional 400 local volunteers. Monetary support and in-kind donations came from a local family foundation, Abita Water (provider of water for the duration of the project), and generous local businesses that provided lunches, hats, t-shirts, and goody bags for the volunteers. Partnering organizations included Habitat for Humanity, Save Our Cemeteries, and City Park (all of which provided work sites) as well as the Red Cross (provider of information on personal and professional disaster preparedness), and East Jefferson General Hospital (provider of on-site medical serves).
How it works
In the aftermath of the storm, League President, Liz Creel, gathered a group of recent JLNO past presidents and together the group conceived a plan to designate the first week of October, 2006 as a week of rebuilding that would include other Leagues from around the country. A planning committee, primarily comprised of JLNO Sustaining members, was formed and the project was soon dubbed "Leagues Rebuilding a Better New Orleans." The the invitations to Leagues inviting them to come to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding effort were met with an overwhelming response with offers to help; it ultimately culminated in a project that resulted in the completion of 28 projects, including the restoration of homes, landscaping a community garden, planting trees, cleaning up a neighborhood cemetery, and painting the main commercial corridor of Freret Street (where the League's Thrift Shop is located).
What’s the impact?
In addition to positively impacting the city's rebuilding efforts, the Rebuilding a Better New Orleans project touched the lives of individuals, many of whom were impoverished homeowners who had suffered great losses during the storm. The volunteers that traveled many miles to lend their time and energy to the project were impacted because they left New Orleans knowing that they had participated in a project that truly exemplified the AJLI motto "women building better communities."