Hard to believe it’s just 9 days to the 5th anniversary of Katrina.  My ongoing back problems (pinched nerve) has made writing at the computer challenging…but I think I am well enough to start playing catch-up.  So expect a few posts in the next few days…

Today’s post is about the initiatives the great folks at the St Bernard Project have going on for the anniversary. There are 5 things they are doing and 5 things you can do from home!

As regular readers of this blog know, SBP is one of my favourite organizations to volunteer with. My students and I have volunteered on all three trips and my partner and I have volunteered a few additional times as well.

These folks work hard with great results. More importantly, they “get it” – they use locals in their work, listen to locals and understand the needs of the community.

There are also 5 ways you can be a part of SBP’s team from home and help solve these solvable problems:

1. Vote for SBP to win $250,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge – It’s easy. You can vote once a day from each email that you may have…they’re in third and the top 2 win $250,000 – help push them over the edge. The money goes to expand mental health services and to provide jobs for people affected by the oil spill.

2. Host a fundraiser in your community for SBP – This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Bring together a group of people to watch When the Levees Broke or Trouble the Water or any of the other amazing Katrina-films. Share a supper at home instead of going out and donate the money  you would have spent. Skip your coffees and lattes for the next 9 days…every penny counts.

3. Commit to volunteer in New Orleans in the coming 12 months – If you’re a friend of mine, don’t forget, I provide a free couch or futon or floorspace for folks who are coming to volunteer. I can also help you obtain cheap housing in the community. New Orleans is a wonderful town to visit – but give of yourself while you’re here!

4. Spread the word; 1,000+ families are still living in FEMA trailers because they own homes
they can not afford to rebuild, thousands of uninsured residents suffer from mental health problems related to the oil spill and Katrina. Tell your family, friends and community these stats and SBP’s solutions. Use Facebook, Twitter, blog, email, newspaper and other outlets and ask them to do 5 for 5.

5. Donate directly to SBP or via text by sending NOLA to 50555 – The texting  only works in the US. Tell all your American friends about this great opportunity to send $5 to NOLA. Otherwise, send a US money order or you can paypal/email transfer me the money and I will take it over to them. Don’t let a border be an excuse!!

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It’s easy to forget, when you’re not here, just how much devastation occured, and continues. So we’ll end with a few photos…of loss and of hope…

Picture your school gymnasium. Ceilings of at least 20 ft. This is how high the water reached at a school (now Camp Hope for volunteers) on Aycock Street in Arabi, St. Bernard Parish, May 2010.

Inside the townhouses on Florida…social housing…neglected and mostly torn down (July 2010).

A stuffed animal in the mailbox of a house in Gentilly, July 2010.

Not quite straight, in the Lower Ninth Ward, May 2009.

My partner Michael building a home for seniors on Serpas St. (Oct 2009) with the St. Bernard Project.

The “boys” of CINT 912 – May 2009 – rebuilding with Common Ground in the Lower Ninth ward.

A Welcome Home party with the St. Bernard Project, May 2010.

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