Friday, June 30, 2006

New Orleans - Volunteer Connections

Three months ago I finally made the move to begin volunteer work in New Orleans. A group called the "Weekend Warriors" from our UU church had been heading there since post Katrina to help out. I had been sitting on my urge to do something until Michael shared the need for volunteers during a service. I was moved to act, signed up, and within a week made my first trip to New Orleans as a volunteer.

Here begins my tribute to the people brave and proud enough to ask for help and the volunteers able to find the time and energy to do the work. I have been inspired from the start, and leave our monthly visits with more than dirty hands and an aching body. The time spent working with everyone fills my heart with hope, commitment, and connections. There is just SO much work to be done, overwhelmingly so, but with the determination and dedication of the New Orlean soul and the involvement of others, recovery can occur step by step.

I've taken my camera with me every time and can't help but to take pictures of the people that I'm with. I really hope that the images will give voice to the region and the people.

Let me introduce a few New Orleans citizens that I feel I can call friends.

The first person I got to help. It was a day of heat, weeds, and wonderful stories about her family.

Jolie with Lee, a contractor from Virginia
Jolie's gutted house has more character than many well lived-in homes.

Her home was covered with 18 ft. of water. She is now gutting the one she used to rent in NO so she'll be able to live there. When I asked her for permission to publish her photo, she didn't hesitate to say yes. She hopes that others will be able to get involved and help New Orleans.


Here are my friends that I volunteer with from our church. There's lots of love and power inside of them.






Jeanne, a NO resident, friend of Augusta

Augusta with Shirley

Irene (Boo!)

We did it!

Post-weeder Laura at Jolie's

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Blogger donna_m said...

thank you for sharing. are you going to add more to this blog if you continue to go down there and volunteer? if yes... i want to add this blog as a link in places... as many places as i can think - my profile at, the one group i'm beginning to form, my other livejournal.. etc.

donna m

4:04 PM  
Blogger A/T said...

You guys look like a hard working bunch :)

4:15 PM  
Blogger katowoman said...

Donna, that's really a great idea and I thank you very,very much. We go down once a month, and I've been three times already. I'm backtracking to try to get something shared about each visit, and I also plan to share each future visit too.

Alicia, this past weekend was my first time with the house gutting crew so the work was definitely more challenging. Your ninja skills would have been awesome to help kick out remaining boards. :)

7:47 AM  
Blogger sammi said...

you have done wonderfully irene. may these blogs inspire many to join you. you have been such an inspiration to me.

thanx, and stay close,


1:31 AM  
Anonymous Yumi said...

Thank you very much for sharing photos.

You are great that you were there as volunteer.

I think that if I could go there to help people in New Orleans..


2:11 AM  
Blogger katowoman said...

Even if you aren't here with me, I take your wishes and support every time I go. Thank you. :)

3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irene, you're a real treasure.


(and yes, I'll be a regular visitor :-))

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat in awe of you and the work you are doing. You are a very special person Irene.


11:23 AM  
Blogger kite said...

Irene..looove it here :) Thanxs for the full report...and the picies...congratulations on being part of this project of re's really amazing :) hugs

6:31 PM  
Blogger katowoman said...

Your fruitcake blessings are so heartwarming...great to see you and thanks for being here with me and the Gulf. :)

Your words...treasure, awe, inspiration, amazing...that's how I feel about the people that we're working with and the volunteer team. Imagine that there are thousands of others like them doing their best to have a sense of pride, confidence, and stability. That's what keeps me going...

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Nao said...

great job guys!

12:31 PM  

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