Monday, December 17, 2007

Request of You???

(From Angie H-Field Operation Manager)

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to send this email out for a couple of reasons. Firstly to say thank you for everyones continued particapation. Secondly to let everyone know that the holidays are here and it is very easy to put aside our project but to please keep in mind that things are still moving along at the Village. I will be in Florida from the 22nd until the 30th of Dec. but I am choosing to contiue what Ive been doing from the very beginning. I chose to send this to everyone because it seems that fear and doubt has entered the hearts and minds of our members. It seems that the ? of how has been re-entered into our organization.

I have to admit that that has crossed my mind from time to time but Leadership has taught me that in order to be a leader I have to keep moving forward no matter what gets in the way. The people of New Orleans have doubt and how cross there mind everyday because of organizations, the Government, buisiness people, and anyone that has given up or just threw there hands in the air because of things that got in there way. We wondered for the reason the people were so hard to come on board, well we are faced with that exact reason.

We knew that things were not easy and they were very challenging. We have had several road blocks and had to go around or cross over them several times. We were not worried about the how. We now have a perfect opportunity to see where we are and move forward. We are where we are and sometimes,well alot of times, we have to make changes in the way we move forward. Things that work we continue, thiings that don't we change and we learn from those things.

There was a powerful request made from Mack that we collect $1,000.00 in 33 days last week. What is stopping you from doing so? We've all made declarations and for the most part we have done very well. We agreed to continue, where are you in that agreement? There is no right or wrong. No need for finger pointing. We are Leaders and we take a stand to be in our excellence. If you choose not to agree, great, stand in your excellence and answer to the request.

I am getting emails from different people, organizations and getting calls. We are getting noticed. New Orleans is finally trusting that we are going to do what it takes. There are volunteers at the center everyday looking for our lead. Who is committed?

I am making another powerful request on behalf of The Village that we continue to be "Maniacs on a Mission" and pull together as we have in the past and do our very personal best in raising each $1,000.00 by January 6th 2008.I am making a more powerful request to include the coaches, Barbara, and Kelly in this but by January 12th. I know we can. Put aside your beliefs of how you feel thing should look and how things should be ran, If you feel you have experties in having the way things are running,run a little smoother, than please come forward and offer to help.

As Field Operation Manager I am in admittance that I have never done anything on such a large scale especially for non-profit. We have great individualls doing things at service everyday to make sure things happen. Most of which have never done this type of work before. We are in learning everyday and are very excited with the new results everyday. Everytime when we are in breakdown(almost everyday) and we work through that breakdown, we grow and so does the center and everyone involved.

I cannot wait to see our results in the end!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

We're Baaaaaaaaack

First of all...TWO NEW PHOTO Albums in our Collection...follow link to the right!

The Leadership (LEEP) Team spent the weekend together in New Orleans last weekend (Dec 1&2). WOW. What a powerful group! Friday was a work day at the Village and we scraped, swept, pulled, tugged, hauled (ate gumbo and turkey necks), then cut, mounted, glued and secured the building. By the time we left, the building was mostly acrylic windows (donated by Lowe's). It was truly a beautiful thing to see so many people working to bring our project to fruition.

Kristopher and Leslie G provided the first program at the Village, a self-defense and safety class, with two sessions presented during the week/weekend. There are already seminars scheduled for the Village in the New Year. The nearby Emergency Center closed during the weekend and donated the balance of their supplies, materials and VOLUNTEER list to LEEP and the Village.

The press showed up during the day and there were "blurbs" on both Channels 4 & 8 about our work and the Village. It was Mack's birthday, and several cakes were presented. Angie had a beautiful rendering of the Village as it should look on completion.

The roofing contractor was on-site powerwashing the roof and getting it ready to repair. I will post my pictures this weekend, as well as those that have been sent to the team. Mine include pictures of the roof...WIDE OPEN to the sky!

I could definitely "see" kids playing basketball on the court, and we got to see the floor samples for the basketball court. My wedding reception was in a "town hall" in a small town in Nebraska, so it was almost like "OLD HOME WEEK" for me...that building in Nebraska was a focal point for the small community around it (pop. 60!) For the community around the Village, this place will be such a blessing and a focal point for them.

Tyrone S spoke over the weekend about how a former community center played a very important role in his and Mack's childhoods. I'm sure all of us can think of places and people that helped us navigate childhood as well. It's a full circle, "pay it forward" project for many of us.

Thanks for being part of our success!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't forget to LOOK RIGHT!

There are lots of links of interest on the right. You can read the Times-Picayune article of 11/13, make a tax-deductible donation via PayPal and order LEEP Merchandise just by clicking on the links you see to the right.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Countdown to November 30...What's it About?

From Angie:

I am also making a powerful request to DWIT (Do What It Takes) to be in N.O. November 30th to help in the building process. This is including the coaches! I am working very hard to make sure that we have a press release and live T.V. to help with further enrollement. It is also Mack's birthday November 30th! What a great B.D. present! Cake anyone? I want everyone to have a piece of his B.D. cake.


The work party will begin at about 10:00 a.m. The press release and unveiling is at 11:00 a.m. (CST). We have all of the supplies for windows from Lowe's. There will be different duties that the windows jobs will need. Kind of like an assembly line.

We want to thank everyone for making the effort to pull together and help on the 30th. I really did mean D.W.I.T. when I sent out the request the first time about the 30th event. There is plenty of time to make the arrangements.Can't wait for everyone to arrive! It is going to be fabulous!!!! Mack is looking forward to this. We all are looking forward to this!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Meditation...

It's only 13 days until most of the LEEP team will be able to get together at the worksite for a LEEP work day. And the next day begins our 2nd weekend of Leadership Training!!!

In between, now and then falls a holiday that means a lot to me. Thanksgiving. Sure, the turkey dinner ROCKS (for everyone but the turkey!) but it's a day that always causes me to reflect on what I have been given, what I have earned and what I have given away...There is such prosperity in our lives, and yet we often hoard instead of help.

I've been reading about some of the founders of the microcredit industry and it really amazes me to think that the $4 I might spend for a latte at Starbucks tomorrow could fund an entire start-up industry somewhere in the world!

I grew up in a small Nebraska town. By the time we were in high school, we often felt trapped and sorry for ourselves. Looking back as an adult, I see how lucky we were. Not only were we surrounded by an entire town of people that cared for and about us, but we had activities and destinations that lots of kids in the same-sized towns only wished for: movie theater, bowling alley, swimming pool, etc. We had a terrific football team (Go Bears!) and community events that brought us together.

In 1953, a tornado blew through my hometown. Although I was not yet born, I heard the stories all my life...the courthouse lost its decorative 3rd floor, the high school was destroyed, even the church I grew up in was reduced to rubble. By the time I was growing up, it was all back...better than ever. Larger, stronger and full of the people who helped make it come back. The town did not die because of a strong gust of wind. Within a few weeks, all was back to normal. Buildings were being rebuilt and the community, as well as members of neighboring towns, rallied behind those who lost property.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew through a good portion of the South. Some lost no more than a good nights sleep (or two)...but many lost everything, including hundreds who lost their lives. For those left behind, loss of loved ones, property, jobs and their community was devastating. Regardless of your position on the help provided by the government and others, the fact hasn't been enough to complete the healing.

People make the difference in New Orleans. No one person can do everything that needs to be done to make this community a whole and healthy one. Some would say that the community was not a whole and healthy one before Katrina. No matter the BEFORE, we work to help create the AFTER. The Lower 9th Ward Village Community Center is set to be a place for families to BE with one another. This is the basis for community, and the purpose of the Village is COMMUNITY.

As you carve your turkey, ham or tofurkey this coming Thursday, take a moment to BE thankful for what you have. For this day, forget what you might not have, and be thankful for the blessings that surround you. And think about how you can impact the world around person, one dollar, one hour at a time. A wall may cost hundreds of dollars, but the dollar YOU donate pays for a handful of nails. No nails, no walls. Everyone is a contribution to those around us be a contribution for the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans!

...Sheila K

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day Work Weekend

Reported by Rita B, a LEEP member:

Dana, the two friends she enrolled - Laura and Sandy, and I were in New Orleans to work. We all grew from our experience and the people we met. When I first saw the building, I was shocked. I thought about the daunting task before us. Then we dug in together, sharing words, tools, and energy. Being there also made me realize that we are all part of the Field Operations. Without each and everyone of us working on the building, it will take longer for programs to have a home. Without walls, there will be no place for the Tree of Growth. We all have had wonderful ideas and created plans to implement them once the building is ready, but creating the space for the programs is a leap created for LEEP.

This past week amazing actions have brought in funds. In the next week, let's see just how much money we can bring in to RAISE THE ROOF!!!

Saturday Dana, Sandy, Laura and I were so grateful to talk to Shawn at Lowes because Lowes is contributing enough acrylic plexiglass for 400 windows. The materials, including the plexiglass and putty, had to be ordered and will be available next weekend and Lowes is DONATING it ALL. With over $5,000 worth of materials coming next weekend, one giant hurdle toward weather-proofing will be closer to completion. The next step is the cutting and installation of the sheets in the 400 panes.

Sunday morning we shared worship at Original Morning Star. My experience of Tyrone at the first weekend was that of a quiet, gentle man. Sunday morning Tyrone was a dynamic, energetic, filled-with-the-spirit presence. He asked me to come forward and gave me a basket. He told his congregation about LEEP and what we were doing there and asked them to come forward in generosity. AND THEY DID. The members of Original Morning Star contributed $645.86 in a matter of a couple of minutes. It was so powerful. They were so willing to give their funds. And, we got lots of hugs after the service. Oh, and Tyrone is a fast learner. He listened to lessons and stories (the good kind) that Dar told and he adapted them and added them to his Sunday message. Dar may have an unexpected new line of work assisting pastors with sermons. We may not know the impact we have, but I experienced Dar's words having an impact through Tyrone on the entire congregation and who knows who they will touch. LEEP is out there in the universe!

Volunteers from the Emergency Center were there Sunday with us. The architect was there measuring and getting the information she needs to create the plans for the city. We were a pretty dirty bunch at the end of the day, and we had created piles of conduit and wiring that will go to scrap/recycle for additional funds. Tyrone had come after church and was tearing conduit out, too. Dar was there attacking the conduits and then took time to get a refreshing beverage for the group. If you ever need conduit or wire pulled, Dana, Laura, Sandy, and I are the gals to call for sure! All-in-all, it was a very productive weekend.

We drove around the neighborhood before we went to the mission. There was still devastation but there was also renewal. The sight that impressed me the most was two boys about 10 years old playing basketball outside on a small 6' patch of concrete surrounded by weeds. I could see them at the Village enjoying a full basketball court with real hoops. I could see them as magical children bringing back special moments of childhood. Can you see it too? Imagine what the Village will mean to them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where We Are???

The weekend of Nov 10-12 is Veteran's Day weekend, but also a big work weekend at the Village. Some folks are coming in from out of town and the Times-Picayune newspaper has expressed an interest in coming to take photos and run a story. WOW.

We have money in hand from our PayPal link (and YOU CAN TOO!) visible here on the right hand side.

We hope to have new photos of the progress made early next week after the big work weekend.

Two more weeks until the entire LEEP team reconvenes in New Orleans and goes to see how the project is coming along. Based on a recent poll, over 50% of our LEEP team will continue working on this project until it is complete...with a goal of March 31, 2008!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vickie Shares The Effects of Angie's Friday Night Call...

On Friday night during our phone call with Angie and Tyrone, I was having dinner with my family, celebrating my little guys 13th birthday at a restaurant here in town. At this point felt very overwhelmed, drained, frustrated and ready to give up with the Community Center.

I connected to the conference call, announced myself them muted, not knowing what I was going to hear and hoping it would be over fast. When Angie began to speak and I heard her tone, I sat up straight and my heart began beating faster. Listening to Angie and Tyrone share there story brought me to tears, everyone around me thought I had just received bad news, but little did they know what I was hearing had touched my heart, and was what I needed to hear to keep going in this journey.

After the call ended, I noticed a group of Firefighters sitting to the left of me, I then turned and asked them to help me and without hesitation they said of course. I gave them a brochure and explained briefly what we were doing and why. It so happened that the person in charge of Charities was sitting amongst these fine gentlemen (no accident), he then handed me a card and said "I will be in contact!" A little after hanging up on our call, I was sharing with my husband what was shared on the call, my little guy turns to me and says "Mom, take my allowance I want to help".

Thank you Angie and Tyrone, and Team Leaders, I will complete this journey!

Vickie O
(Vickie is another terrific LEEP team member)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Lower Ninth Ward Village?

Angie H. is one of the valued members of our LEEP team. This past Friday night, she asked us to join a conference call so she could speak to the power of this project. Here is what we learned on the call:

Angie was recently asked by Ward (the building owner), "If you could go back to time prior to the first weekend of Leadership, before this project started, would you?" Angie said she would not in spite of challenges, that she loves what she is doing and will continue.

Ward said that if the people of New Orleans could go back to a time prior to Katrina, they would…for the lives they had. They do not wish for the negatives back, but for their families, friends, and the lives they shared.

Angie shared that Ward still lives in a FEMA trailer next to his still ruined home. He saw something else for New Orleans and decided to use the funds he had available to purchase the Village building because he had seen the structure and declared he would do something bigger for the people of the Lower Ninth Ward. Within weeks of the building purchase, LEEP had entered his vision as an answer to his prayers. He had watched for two years as people slowly come back to still see devastation in the Lower Ninth Ward.

The other day about ten kids had come by the Village and asked what it would be. Ward showed them and shared his vision of what the interior would be. They were excited to know there would be a basketball court, a kitchen, and other rooms. The kids want a place where they can have fun and laugh again, a place where their parents can come and have fun, too. Every day they see their destroyed homes and neighborhood, but they still see a future and have hope for life in New Orleans. Ward would like LEEP to stay part of the Village. There is passion there for all.

Tyrone S, another LEEP member, who resides in New Orleans shared that the elders can assist the young in creating hope for new days. The Village is for families to build their lives again, a place for parents to gather with their children. The Village is the place that will create opportunities for young and old and touch lives beyond the building.

Angie asked those on the phone call to think about their work on the Village as a mission not only "on purpose", but "on passion"...a passion to help continue the work that is so desperately needed in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's Get BUSY!!!

Volunteers working on removing ceiling materials. Masks are required because of the drywall dust!

Ward "Mack" McClendon using a crowbar to remove ceiling material.

Thanks to Dar for the photos!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Word is OUT!

In New Orleans, there is a shell of a building where the dream of a community center already exists. This is The Lower 9th Ward Village Community Center. A group of committed individuals-known as LEEP-have accepted the challenge to support making this dream a reality. When it is complete, it will provide space for groups to engage in recreation, life skills training, education and counseling. Our goal is to obtain the bulk of the funding and have plans in hand by the end of 2007. Local groups are already mobilizing to provide programs suited to the needs of the area.

How YOU Can Help
Our goal is to make the dream of a community center a reality. This is an incredibly exciting project and we’d like to invite you to join us on the journey!. Sponsorship can take many forms, such as direct financial donations, sponsorship of specific items, and donation of products, services or time. Estimates are that the initial building and program creation will require over $100,000. It is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to build a community center from the ground up. The costs are low because the building and land already exist and because volunteers are stepping forward to provide labor, materials and monetary donations. Program continuation will require ongoing funds. YOU can be one of those valuable volunteers.

Materials and Donations in Kind
Building materials, office supplies, kitchen equipment, musical instruments, playground and recreation equipment, books and educational material...the list of needed materials is endless. Food for volunteers during the rebuilding process and later for program participants will be useful as well. Please call our Fundraising Chair to tell her where you can be of assistance in this area.

Sweat Equity
Having a building is just half the battle. Many hours of work are needed to bring the building up to code and renovated to serve the community. If you are interested in volunteering with LEEP to clean and renovate the building, please contact Angie Hollier at 337-278-2848.

Tree of Growth
A Tree of Growth will be displayed in the entryway of the Community Center. For as little as $125 (to $175) your name or the name of someone you wish to honor or remember will be placed on a Tree of Growth leaf. For a donation of $250-$1000, that same name will appear on a rock, placed at the base of the Tree of Growth to symbolize strength and support. Your tax-deductible Tree of Growth donation or further information can be made through John Ryan, 803-419-4083.

Room Sponsorship
For donations starting at $10,000, a room in the Community Center will be named for the sponsoring organization or individual, with appropriate signage and recognition in print materials. Contact the Fundraising Chair for more information.