|Category:||Caring for Communities|
|Tags:||global volunteer month, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, St. Bernard Project, volunteer|
UPS Global Volunteer Month five years after Katrina
Thanksgiving has always been a day for me to reflect on the good fortune in my life. I am often reminded on this holiday that the things I cherish the most are often those I did not seek or expect.
As we drove through the neighborhoods of New Orleans on the way to St. Bernard Parish last month, I was in awe of the resilience of the people in the city. Recovering from disaster requires resources like tools or money; but without belief, determination, or spirit most would find little success.
St. Bernard Parish, a heavily impacted area near New Orleans, has not been as publicized as areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, but their need is just as great. The St. Bernard Project is a nonprofit organization working to rebuild homes, provide mental health services, and offer an opportunity housing program to families in the St. Bernard Parish area impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
During Global Volunteer Month in October, the Gulf South District UPSers volunteered at the St. Bernard Project to continue rebuilding the neighborhood. About 15 UPSers and their families worked on two homes that were damaged by 12 feet of flood water.
It is estimated that it will take 16 years to repair all the Hurricane Katrina damage and bring displaced families home. Volunteerism is a critical component to expediting the recovery process and UPSers are doing their part to make the communities where we live and work better places.
“When you volunteer, you think that you are going to be helping other people but you can’t believe the impact that it has on your life,” said Wilfred Edwards, Gulf South District Area Human Resources Manager. “There is still a lot of work to be done and we are already scheduled to do another event with the St. Bernard Project.”
Arriving at a home on Lena Drive, Package Car Driver Steven Smith, a 32-year UPSer, was surprised to find that he would be helping trim and paint the home of one of his regular delivery customers. This realization highlighted the fact that as UPSers we are very integrated with our communities.
The St. Bernard Project was started in March 2006 by Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney after the couple volunteered in St. Bernard in February. Inspired by the residents’ collective spirit, openness and fierce desire to rebuild their lives and community, Zack and Liz decided to create an organization that would provide vital resources and support to families. The St. Bernard Project’s story attracts volunteers from all over including site supervisor Shawn McFaw, a California native, who decided to stay after working with them as an Americorps NCCC volunteer.
The project is inspiring and its values align with UPS; both working to make a positive impact on the communities where we live and work. Thinking about that day, I find myself grateful that I was able to meet so many selfless people and observe their enthusiasm to heal their community.