10.31.2011

Holiday Home Stretch and Jimbeaux in the Gambit

No matter who you are, the Holiday Season has something for everyone. For me, it is fake cranberry jelly that makes that awesome sound when it slides out of the can, being tricked into eating turnips, and bizarre travel arrangements that have me in 4 different places in 6 days. Oddly enough, I always associate this season with NOT being home (the last time I spent Christmas in New Orleans was 2005, an odd year indeed to be here). Of course, I have to give my parents and grandparents props...they provide a much more 'home'-esque environment than Ms. Mae ever did.

Invariably, when you think Holidays you think home and family. While the Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is always a stark reminder of what has been lost, every homeowner I've ever met (over 1500) has always gone straight to the Holidays when they talk about what they lost and want back.

While, as you know, PNOLA has never made a big to-do on 8/29, we always try to make a push leading up to the end of the year because we know what getting your house back (or, more likely, ALMOST getting your house back) in time for getting together as a family can mean. We have a lot of projects going right now, many of which will be finished, or substantially completed, by the time we go on Holiday break. Our partners in doing so include Jahri Evans, Lance Moore, and Malcolm Jenkins who all have chosen to support the Hope For the Holidays Program with United Way of Southeast Louisiana. We also have a number of families being funded by the United Church of Christ who are nearing the completion of their commitment to families in New Orleans and will be focusing their disaster ministries in other places with great needs. Smuckers, also through United Way, has supported a number of our projects as well and we recently received a grant from Entergy to help families get over the home stretch. The level of support that remains for the work we are doing continues to defy logic, and a number of my well laid plans, but in a good way of course. It's all about everyone remembering that there are still so many family homes that will be empty this year for the Holidays, and a refusal to allow that to continue to define New Orleans for many years to come. Our staff are all working hard to get it all done, despite a significant lack of volunteers in the region (email volunteer@pnola.org, we need you!)

As a reminder...I'm 25. When I come to work, I think about the things I can do better so that we can do more...and a lot of times I wish I was 50 and had all the experience already to get it done. That said, I know I do a good job and make more happen with less. My staff and the people at Gambit agree, and have listed me among their '40 under 40', which is meant to recognize 40 folks in New Orleans who are all punching above their 'age-class'. I'm very happy for PNOLA to get this type of recognition as a whole, and hope that my recognition is able to highlight that all but two of our staff here at PNOLA are under 40 and doing equally impressive stuff. Apparently they don't allow team selection but I'd like for y'all to all read our inclusion as just that ;) You can read more about 'us' and the other folks here (I am on page 21):


Also, speaking of home....I know a lot of you consider New Orleans to be your second home. Please visit our website to learn how you can raise money for PNOLA and win a trip for 2 to New Orleans! Feel free to email jim@pnola.org if you're interested!

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