More than two years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, its unprecedented path of destruction is still visible. Yet the help has slowed. No longer fueled by constant media attention and disillusioned at ongoing reports of corruption, mismanagement and lack of visible progress, donations and offers to help rebuild the Crescent City have slowed to a mere trickle.
America, it seems, has moved on. The children of New Orleans, in most cases, have not.
Last football season offered a welcomed glimmer of hope to this beleaguered city. New Orleans was fortunate to gain an athlete of the stature and personal integrity of Drew Brees. It was good for the team, but it was even better for the children of New Orleans.
Drew and his wife Brittany decided early on that the move to New Orleans was right for them, and that they had a responsibility to help the city. They were also aware they needed to do things well. In an effort to figure out where to begin, Drew and Brittany teamed up with us. We helped to determine how and where to help in the most meaningful ways.
Great projects lead by great people were identified and vetted. We created the mission and the strategy and named our “quarterback.” The next step was more complicated; how to convince a generous but somewhat disheartened public, to come back – to keep giving?
The solution necessarily included starting a conversation online. Nowhere else can a message and a cause spread in such a viral and organic way. And nowhere else can we realistically reach people both with the “ask” while showing the results.
Success has been steady. To date we have:
• Raised just under $700,000 of the needed $2 million.
• Completed a beautiful new recreation area just outside the back doors of
The New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School. Instead of rubble and damaged asphalt too uneven to walk on, students can now take a break from studies and be proud of their school in a new way. Thanks to XanGo LLC for donating $60,000 which was used in full to complete this great project.
• Provided a new weight room for the gymnasium at the Lusher Charter School. Next up is the completion of the football/baseball field.
• Opened a desperately needed day care center, which will help normalize life for so many children and families – thanks to Steve Young and his Forever Young Foundation.
• In cooperation with WalMart, there is a new roof on the community center at Ponchartrain Park and lighting for the field is not far away.
That is how this works; we know the cost, we know the need, and the money leads to a tangible outcome for kids.
Through Drew’s commitment to New Orleans and our determination to see it done right, I know big things will happen. But we still need individuals to help us with this effort. There are still too many children without schools, playgrounds, care centers, recreation facilities. There are still too many children without a future. We are making visible progress, but kids are waiting; kids who just need a little help and a little opportunity.
It’s why we are reaching out to start a conversation about accountability and new technology in the nonprofit. I see desire, but I also see wariness. People want to help, but they are no longer willing to throw money to the wind.
It is my hope that people, perhaps even you, realize that there are organizations with a soul who want to make a difference in the life of a child the right way.
I urge you to join the conversation. Demand accountability. Reach out and save a child.