As fate would have it, I find myself reading an AP article on another post-Katrina scandal, while in New Orleans. I am here making a site-check on various projects contained in our “Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans” campaign.
The article is troubling to say the least because, well, it is true. Just an hour ago I had a conversation with the head of the New Orleans Recreation Department and he concurred that the private contractor named in this article did indeed ignore advice to disperse funds through local banks and financial institutions. This means that rather than residents going to business they knew…and who knew them, they were forced to deal en mass with an outside company who rushed them through a sloppy process. Yes, it is true.
However, there is more to report and it is equally true. The “good news” does not seem to make the headlines for some reason. Under new state leadership, monies are beginning to flow to those in need. And there are smaller independent projects that are making a large difference. I have listed them before, and I look forward to the day when this does not bear repeating. With the support of relatively modest donations, Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans has opened the first fully accredited day care center post- Katrina, added a beautiful new playground, funded after school and internship programs for the Charter Science & Math High School, opened a new playground in partnership with the Allstate Foundation at Lyon’s Park and opened a new weight room at Lusher Charter School.
Electricians are pulling out old wiring and preparing to re-wire the lights so youth athletic programs can once again fully use Pontchartrain Park. The plans are now drawn for a complete football/baseball/soccer field at Lusher Charter School and the list continues.
I repeat this for one reason only; there are good stories to be told and good people to admire in New Orleans. I do not know why none of these stories hit the headlines. If the whole story is to be told, it should include both sides.
My concern is that New Orleans will be written off in the wake of these consistently negative stories. As much as those stories need to be told in order to keep a struggling system as honest as possible, please do not forget that there are parents, students, teachers and administrators; city council members, city and state employees and private contractors, who get up every morning and try against the toughest odds, to improve the city and the lives of future generations. Join us as we celebrate a few successes in The Big Easy.