New Orleans stands alone as a truly unique and vibrant American city. A cultural center, we attract tourists from all around the world who come to see the one-of-a-kind charm and personality that the region proudly embodies.
However, we should never forget that beyond the revelry and excitement that there are plenty of underserved communities in our city in need of a helping hand. There exists a number of opportunities to make this city a better place, and organizations that are always looking for more help from people like you.
If you’ve felt the call to pitch in but feel overwhelmed by the number of potential places in need, a good place to start your journey would be with the HandsOn New Orleans initiative. HandsOn’s mission is to serve as a kind of clearinghouse for all the various projects that need volunteer help in the city. You can jump right in and take a look at their Opportunity Calendar to see where you can be of help, or check out their Volunteer Referral List and get in touch with someone who can point you in the right direction. It’s easier than you think.
Rebuild and Revive
Numerous floods and other disasters have done damage to the city with lasting consequences. Even after life continues as normal, there remain many abandoned structures that are a blight on their communities. Since 1988, Rebuilding Together has been one of the preeminent organizations devoted to changing this. Whether you’re a master renovator or have never picked up a paintbrush, they’ll show you the ways you can pitch in to restore these great neighborhoods to the beauty their residents deserve.
One important aspect of improving neighborhoods is youth outreach. Ensuring a bright future starts with empowering those who will shape the city in the decades to come. One organization that does just that, along with teaching valuable lessons about nutrition and sustainability is Grow Dat Youth Farm. Their two-acre farm in City Park is both a center for youth leadership and education and a functioning agribusiness. Their youth-run farmers market stands not only give young people an education in leadership and responsibility, but help provide nutritious and affordable food choices to neighborhoods where those choices can be hard to come by.
Sadly, one of the most easily neglected populations in a city like New Orleans are abandoned and stray animals, left alone on the street with nowhere to call home. Founded after Hurricane Katrina, Animal Rescue New Orleans is dedicated to responding to the needs of these dogs, cats, and other animals in need, getting them vital medical attention and even new homes. Over 7,800 (and counting) dogs and cats have been adopted through Animal Rescue, and their shelter houses those who are still in need. Volunteers and supplies are always needed, and your help can go a long way in bringing an animal from the cold streets to a loving home.
It’s not only buildings that have been devastated by storms and flooding in the New Orleans area. Vital wetlands that have served as a buffer from Gulf waters have also been damaged and put the area in danger. The mission of Common Ground Relief, along with restoring communities, is to revitalize these marshlands and restore them to where they can protect the land again. Common Ground helps by performing soil tests, replanting, and maintaining a tree farm that provides a natural safeguard from encroaching waters. Not only that, a job training program gives residents the knowledge and skills to keep these improvements going for years to come. Your help can keep New Orleans and the surrounding area a thriving community for all people.