Spotlight on Volunteers Rebuilding After Katrina and Supporting Veterans and Military Families
Washington D.C. - This week President Obama's United We Serve initiative will spotlight the key role that volunteers play in supporting veterans and military families and in helping communities prepare for and recover from disasters as part of Safety and Security Week.
Since Hurricane Katrina unleashed a wave of destruction four years ago, more than one million volunteers have come to the Gulf Coast to provide critical support in the relief and rebuilding effort. Participants in AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America have been a backbone of this volunteer response and remain heavily involved in the long-term rebuilding effort. In the days leading up the fourth anniversary of Katrina on August 29, a number of service projects and events will highlight the progress that has been made and the ongoing need for volunteers.
Safety and Security Week will also highlight the countless volunteers who provide support and assistance to our nation's veterans by taking them to doctor's appointments, connecting them to services, providing employment counseling, assisting wounded veterans with daily tasks, and supporting families of military service members.
“Volunteers have given hope and help to millions of Gulf Coast residents after Katrina and are critical to building a stronger future for the Coast,” said Corporation Acting CEO Nicola Goren. “Volunteers also make a powerful difference in the lives of those who serve in our nation's armed forces. By shining the spotlight on their good works, we hope more will answer the President's call to service.”
During Safety and Security Week, Aug. 24-30, United We Serve will highlight spotlight projects and volunteer successes on the stories of service blog at Serve.gov. Examples of activities taking place include:
- Launch of American Legion Auxiliary VISTA Project Supporting Veterans: On Monday, August 24, the American Legion Auxiliary will launch a new Call to Service Corps VISTA Project at their national convention in Louisville, Ky. The project will engage 17 AmeriCorps VISTA members in building the volunteer capacity of American Legion Auxiliary state and local chapters to alleviate poverty among veterans, military service members, and their families. (Click here for more info)
- Federal Employees Volunteer with New Orleans Organizations on Rebuilding Projects: In the days leading up to the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, nearly 100 Obama Administration officials and federal employees will join local organizations in New Orleans for a series of volunteer homebuilding projects as part of United We Serve. Employees from several federal agencies taking administrative leave and paying their own way will work from August 26 through August 29 with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, Habitat for Humanity New Orleans, the St. Bernard Project, and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation on a coordinated effort marking the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall.
- Honor Flights for WWII Veterans: The Honor Flight Network provides free trips for America's most senior heroes, the veterans of WWII, to travel to Washington DC to visit the WWII Memorial. As part of United We Serve, the network has designated Saturday, August 29 as a day of recognition and thanks to its thousands of volunteers. More than 1,200 volunteers will support 315 WWII vets by sending them off at their home airports, waving American flags upon arrival and departure at DC area airports, and providing meals at the Memorial. (Click her for more info)
- St. Bernard Project 4 NOLA: The St. Bernard Project was started in March 2006 to work with the residents of St. Bernard rebuilding and restoring residents homes. To date the St. Bernard Project has engaged more than 16,000 volunteers to rebuild more than 230 houses. On the Katrina Anniversary, the St. Bernard Project will kick off 4 NOLA, a national campaign to raise awareness and support for rebuilding efforts by people who, four years after Katrina, are still “4 New Orleans.” Starting on Aug. 28, AmeriCorps members and volunteers will work for 24 hours straight to rebuild three houses. (Click here for more info)
- Louisiana, My Heart, My Home Rebuild-A-Thon: The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation is hosting a day of rebuilding in the New Orleans metropolitan area on Saturday, August 29. The day's activities will begin with a rally at Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park, after which Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré will deploy volunteers to take part in various service projects assisting in the recovery process. (Click here for more info)
- Operation REACH Service Day and Building Dedication: On August 29, the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Operation REACH, Inc., a national AmeriCorps program, will dedicate its new National Headquarters and celebrate the opening of the Knowledge Garden Child Development Center in New Orleans. Volunteers will paint and beautify the classrooms, create gardens, provide free immunizations for children, and go door-to-door to sign families up to recycle their used cooking into eco-friendly biodiesel fuel. (Click here for more info)
- Welcome Home American Hero Celebrations: Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in several locations across the country are hosting Welcome Home events to honor service members and veterans who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The events will feature tributes from elected officials and information on VA programs and benefits. Events will take place on August 29 at the Harrisburg Senators Baseball Game in Pennsylvania and at the Coatesville, Penn., VA Medical Center; and on August 30 at the Baltimore Orioles/Cleveland Indians baseball game in Baltimore. (Click here for more info)
- Mississippi Governor and Habitat To Commemorate Katrina: On August 29, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, along with Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour, will celebrate the progress made along the MS Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005. The event will highlight the completion of HFHMGC's first large-scale development, The Trace, a twenty-eight house subdivision in Long Beach, MS. Since 2007, HFHMGC's AmeriCorps members and volunteers have completed more than 300 homes have and several more under construction. (Click here for more info)
- Fire Awareness in Montana: The Montana Governor's Office of Community Service is launching Fire Ready Montana this week, a campaign that will bringing communities together to learn more about preparedness, wildfire mitigation, insurance, national service, and volunteer opportunities. The road show kicks off in Whitefish, MT today and runs through August 29 with stops in Libby, Missoula, Lincoln, Bozeman, and Billings. The First Lady will attend the event in Missoula. Another feature of the campaign includes “reports from the road” – an online diary of the tour across Montana that will be posted on a new website www.serve.mt.gov. (Click here for more info)
- Launch of New AmeriCorps NCCC Campus in Vicksburg, Miss: The first class of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members to serve at the Vicksburg, MS, campus will be inducted into service on September 1 by Corporation CEO Nicola Goren and other dignitaries. The 160 class members arrived at the campus for training early in August and will begin a round of service projects throughout the Magnolia State. Since 2005, more than 4,000 NCCC members have served 2.6 million hours in the Gulf Coast on over 975 relief and recovery projects, assisting a total of 3 million people. (Click here for more info)