Watching the Super Bowl this weekend and seeing the images of the French Quarter as the Saints claimed victory over the Colts made me incredibly nostalgic. This exact time last year, I was living in the St. Roch (a 15 minute walk from the French Quarter) neighborhood of New Orleans, LA (NOLA) and working for an incredible non-profit organization called “Rebuilding Together New Orleans “ (RTNO). RTNO helps elderly, low income, and disabled individuals by repairing and rebuilding their homes. There are other Rebuilding Together organizations across the country. However in New Orleans, Rebuilding Together effort is clearly focused on repairing homes damaged from Hurricane Katrina. RTNO is also unique in that it partners with The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Consequently, RTNO is also focused on preserving the historical architecture of the respective neighborhoods in New Orleans.
This spring, I will have the opportunity to return to NOLA to attend a conference on the status of the recovery effort post-Katrina which will also outline the rebuilding plan for the years ahead. The conference is being held by Continuity Insights Magazine. Some additional topics and sessions being addressed and offered at the conference include, “Pandemic Planning: Lessons Learned from the recent Flu Season” and “Haiti: Special Presentation by Howard Price, ABC News”.
Volunteer Maryland asks all VMCs and RCS at the beginning of the year to outline goals for the service year. One of my goals this year is to grow professionally. As an RC, I receive $300 for Professional Development. These funds can be used for trainings and conferences or other opportunities with the approval of Volunteer Maryland’s Director. With the help of Volunteer Maryland I am able to attend this conference. This opportunity means a lot to me as I served in NOLA as an AmeriCorps member and continue to look for ways to grow personally and professionally. I think disaster response, relief and recovery is such a specialized, challenging and vital part of the non-profit sector and I’m excited to come back and share what I have learned!