Clubs near New Orleans rebuild safety net
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Rotarians in Slidell, Louisiana, USA, faced a crisis. The city, located about 30 miles across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, had taken a direct hit from the 2005 storm.
“Katrina literally destroyed more than half of our city,” recalls Mayor Freddy Drennan, a member of the Rotary Club of Slidell North Shore.
His club and the Rotary Club of Slidell collaborated on a service project to help rebuild and reopen more than a dozen nonprofit agencies that serve low- to middle-income residents.
Most of the organizations didn’t have insurance, and many would have left town if they managed to survive at all, says Don O’Bryan, a member of the Slidell North Shore club, who headed the effort.
Among the agencies the clubs helped through the three-year project were a local Boys & Girls club, Habitat for Humanity chapter, day care center, food pantry/soup kitchen/mobile meals program, senior center, women’s shelter, and adult day care center for the developmentally challenged.
For many club members, the project did more than help mend the city’s safety net; it mended their spirits too.
“The most memorable thing I’ve had in my life was those three years,” recalls Jay Rose, a member of the Slidell club who managed several of the rebuilding initiatives.
Order the After Katrina:Rotary Stories from the Gulf Coast DVD