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!