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The role of nonprofits in a resilient New Orleans

Network Voluntours and NolaVie present a new series, "Lend a Hand NOLA," focused on local volunteer opportunities in post-Katrina New Orleans.  (photo: Network Voluntours)

Network Voluntours and NolaVie present a new series, "Lend a Hand NOLA," focused on local volunteer opportunities in post-Katrina New Orleans. (photo: Network Voluntours)

Post-Katrina New Orleans is one of the best case studies of the impact and role of nonprofits in a resilient and strengthening community. From educational improvement  to health reform to neighborhood revitalization and environmental sustainability --  in most of the resilient post-Katrina stories, nonprofits have played, and continue to play, a critical, underlying role --serving as a backbone -- in these successes. While these not-for-profit -Katrina stories may not appear on the front page or in organizing press conferences, they are working on a daily basis keeping the ball moving and momentum flowing after initial announcements and excitement have settled.

These organizations are and will continue to be in the trenches. There is nothing pretty about the work they do, but the results have been beautiful and effective. Rarely, however, is their work ever finished. Many not-for-profits continue to press on, addressing growing and new issues with limited capacities, as well as the resources and staffing they have. In many of the  current struggles to fight gentrification, create jobs and increase health outcomes, nonprofits remain on the frontline. They have collectively reshaped New Orleans into the city it is today and what it hopes to become in the future.

These organizations have accomplished positive changes with the help of subsidized employees, passionate staff and volunteers, all despite shrinking budgets. These groups have engaged hundreds of thousands of people to participate in New Orleans-based missions, educating millions more to the issues facing NOLA and the solutions needed to resolve them. Perhaps more than anything they’ve garnered support from committed individuals and organizations. Residents, family members, professionals, schools, businesses conventions, religious groups and special-event attendees have all lent a helping hand to our nonprofits leading the way. It is this support that enables nonprofits to continue to fight.

In light of the upcoming 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we hope to take the time honor the not-for-profits that have enabled and encouraged people -- from here and away -- to support these organizations’ missions.

Next week, NolaVie will launch a weekly series,  “Lend a Hand NOLA”, which will highlight a variety of local not-for-profits and the great work they are doing. Additionally, it will highlight ways that New Orleanians themselves  can support and volunteer with these not-for-profits.

As the rise of excitement and angst around the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina begins to fade, our non-profs will continue to work hard to elicit change. This series is designed to give the praise the organizations working to better our city them the praise they deserve and keep people engaged so that they can continue to lead New Orleans for the next 10 years and beyond.

Check back next week for the first feature in our new "Lend a Hand NOLA" series, in conjunction with Network Voluntours.