Lower Ninth Ward Village founder Ward “Mack” McLendon, a lifelong resident of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, has noticed the news media usually reports that residents of his neighborhood don’t want to come home. Hogwash! A vibrant, densely-populated hotbed of culture and family values, the Lower Ninth Ward holds hostage the hearts of all who live within its boundaries. And after all, sixty-five percent of property in the Lower 9 is owned by elderly folks who had never been outside New Orleans until the storm hit!
Studying tsunamis and other major disasters, Mack found out Katrina was not a rare case — across the board, due to bureaucracy and red tape, people who most need help sometimes never get it. So he came up with “Adopt-A-Family,” a WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR? initiative by which churches, organizations, school groups, institutions, and individual donors may take on the project of funding and otherwise assisting a specific Ninth Ward family with their return. In the process, donors and recipients become a part of each other’s lives. It takes a village…
The mission of WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR? is more than re-planting people in their Lower Ninth homes — it’s making them whole. Whatever they need — whether it’s lawn care, an appliance, legal aid with secession issues, windows and doors, help with moving, or a list of resources available to them … WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR? will help chip away at the problems this overburdened neighborhood faces … until the Lower Ninth comes back stronger than ever. Put simply, WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR? will allow the Lower Ninth Ward Village to serve as a hub for action, services, resources, and community connections.
How do we start? … In collaboration with the leaders and volunteers of the 70-odd non-profit organizations currently helping the Lower Ninth Ward, “Where’s Your Neighbor” is making a map. This map will tell the world who’s back, who’s not coming back, and who wants to come back with everything in them — if it weren’t for that “thing” standing in their way. With the neighbors found, we then attack the “thing” standing in their way!
Through the “WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR?” project, The Village can bring together Lower 9th Ward residents in need of services, funders from out of state, and a network of skilled labor in the community. The connections we foster will continue to make the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood whole again, and spread goodwill and a sense of accomplishment across the Earth.
We’re starting small — a kitchen-cabinet remodel here, a new refrigerator there — but look how happy it made Miss Henrietta when we gave her a new stove.
For now, we just need to keep the lights on in the Village ($300 to $500 per month), get a new refrigerator ($300) for a lady with major disabilities, and remodel a thrice-frauded seamstress’ upholstery shop ($400-600). Oh yah also, Mack’s laptop computer got stolen, and he’s broke and he needs a new one.
WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR. Let’s get this show on the road. Which neighbor do you wanna adopt? … DONATE NOW! And please, email to volunteer with the “WHERE’S YOUR NEIGHBOR?” program.