Group to Provide Meals and Louisiana Hospitality
New Orleans, LA – Today, set against the backdrop of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined conference officials in an official "send-off" of a team of New Orleanians to Joplin, Missouri. Led by Greg Reggio and the Taste Buds, a local culinary company, and under the heading of "Three Chefs: One Mission," the group will deploy to Joplin to help the victims of the devastating tornado that took the lives of 138 people and destroyed a large portion of the city.
Among the conference officials joining Mayor Landrieu were Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute, and John Gomperts, Director of AmeriCorps. Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service are the co-conveners of the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.
The New Orleans contingent, including a caravan of refrigerated trucks, trailers, cooking equipment, tents, generators, busses and a 24' music stage, will leave from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, where the conference is being held. Upon arriving in Joplin, the group will feed over 1,000 people fresh Louisiana seafood on June 7. They will return to New Orleans on June 8.
"These New Orleanians are truly examples of the conference's theme – Champions of Service," said Mayor Landrieu. "We know what the good people of Joplin are going through. So, we thought it especially fitting that they depart as this conference – the world's largest gathering of volunteer leaders from the nonprofit, faith-based, government and corporate sectors – begins. Greg and his partners in this effort are great ambassadors for our city as they celebrate the spirit of paying it forward."
"Our mission is a simple one – to bring a little bit of Louisiana food, music and spirit and a lot of Louisiana love to the people of Joplin, Missouri," said Reggio. "Sharing great food and music provides much more than filling the bellies and ears of those in need. Even if just for a moment - but hopefully for a few hours - we'll ease the minds and lift the spirits of the Joplin community. A little progress each day, a little bit of brightness are all things that ease the mind and help heal the soul, and we hope to remain an ongoing partner with Joplin beyond this experience during their rebuilding process."
The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board have committed resources to the mission. Partners include Ernst Café, Pelican Events, Sound Source, State Machinery, Sysco Food Service of New Orleans, Kajun Kettle, New Orleans Fish House, Arnaud's Restaurant, Calco Travel, Hotard Coaches, Waguespack Oil, Crescent Crown, Zea Rotisserie & Grill, Semolina and Zatarain's. Musician Amanda Shaw will travel to Joplin to provide entertainment throughout the event. Volunteers will also travel with the contingent to join in the effort.
"This taste of New Orleans culture will be greatly appreciated by the hard-working volunteers and residents of Joplin who are coming back from a terrible disaster with a strong spirit of resiliency and hope," said Gomperts. "Just as in New Orleans, volunteers and national service participants are playing an essential role in helping Joplin get back on its feet."
Gomperts was in Joplin over the weekend meeting with government officials, volunteers and reviewing the extraordinary volunteer operation led by AmeriCorps. Since the tornado, the Volunteer Reception Center established and led by 130 AmeriCorps members has coordinated more than 14,000 unaffiliated volunteers who have performed more than 50,000 hours of service to the victims of the Joplin Tornado.
"Perhaps no other city understands the value of volunteer service to create change and build community, whether that the complicated task of damage clean-up, or preparing a warm, delicious meal for volunteers and those affected by disaster," said Mayor Landrieu.