The conference is only a few short days behind us, but already we are thinking about DRI 2013 and the next Volunteer Day. I just wanted to thank all of the volunteers from our extremely successful Volunteer Day, held Saturday, May 19. With over 70 volunteers working at Second Harvest/ Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity, my expectations were genuinely exceeded. The work accomplished, friends made, heartfelt giving back, camaraderie achieved, and the ideas shared combined to make it a day that we can all be proud of.
Our Second Harvest volunteers worked at breakneck speed on the sorting conveyor and set records for food sorted, boxed and stacked. There also was laughter, dancing, and singing to make the day enjoyable as well. Catie, our contact with Second Harvest was most pleased and appreciative of the hard work and spirit of our volunteers.
The Habitat for Humanity volunteers worked in the hot sun of New Orleans roofing, siding, trimming, framing, hauling, and cleaning. The 40+ volunteers had an opportunity to meet the homeowner and spend time hearing his story. As we prepared to leave and said our goodbyes, one of the homeowner’s sons commented that the group photo taken at days end would most certainly find a place on a wall of the completed home. Our new friend, Tyrone (the homeowner) hugged us as we left and complimented our hard work and thanked us for being there to build his home with him.
With a meeting Friday night to set the stage for Saturday, a full day of work, Po Boy sandwiches provided to all for lunch, and a thank you dinner in the evening, the day was a magical experience for me. I am hopeful that all the volunteers shared that feeling. And I am most hopeful that next year we will at least match the numbers, exceed the contribution, and simply have fun giving back to those who are in need of our help.
As a footnote for leaving this city…when getting ready to leave our hotel, we briefly met a hotel worker (Elizza) who told of her experiences after Katrina. Losing her home in the St. Bernard Parish was painful and life changing. Feeling desperately alone for two weeks as it seemed they were simply forgotten, she lost her home and all its contents. Her brother watched on the news from a safe location days after Katrina to only spot his home floating away in the receding flood waters. Elizza moved to Mississippi, but returned to New Orleans as the tug of the charm and depth of her passion for wanting to come home tugged at her heartstrings. This highlights that there is so much more to do here for the good people of Louisiana. Hopefully, you will find it in your heart to help here and wherever you feel you can get some of that good done.
That said, New Orleans isn’t the only place that needs help…our help. And the Disaster Recovery International Foundation will seek out those areas in need, and with your help we will make a difference – one home, one community, one project at a time-just as we did this past Saturday. For those who worked with us, thank you! For those wanting to be involved in the work of the Foundation and wanting to volunteer with us, we welcome you with open arms!
Disaster Recovery International Foundation
Director of Volunteerism and Vice President