Hurricane Katrina Ten Years Later
United Way is Here for You
Before. During. After. Always.
With your support, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) contributes to the stability of our region by gathering resources, providing volunteers and delivering financial assistance and human services. United Way is working every day to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.
The first couple years post Katrina/Rita brought early organizational and personal challenges. The hurricanes severely damaged or destroyed 90% of the homes of United Way employees. Our headquarters flooded and all campaign materials were destroyed. We returned to the Canal Street offices after nearly five months only to have many of our computers stolen.
Despite these obstacles, United Way continued to work for the community. We adopted a more hand ‘hands on’ approach and moved from annual allocations to a more adaptable six month grant partnership process open to any nonprofit organization providing essential recovery services in our community.
Some of these partnerships gave new meaning to ‘health and human services. United Way provided small utility buildings with washers and dryers to first responders and returning residents so they could have clean clothes.
We operated the Plaquemines Parish Distribution Center, supplying returning residents with food, clothing, household goods and supplies, plus books and toys for children.
We even secured refrigerated trucks so fishermen could keep catches cold and restart the crippled fishing industry
United Way shored up the 2-1-1, 24/7 information and referral system so people would have the latest, most up-to-date guide to recovery information and services.
We knew the lack of childcare was preventing families from returning and that hurt our struggling economy. UWSELA partnered with The Greater New Orleans Rebuild Child Care Collaborative and launched a successful awareness campaign: 0 childcare = 0 employees = 0 businesses
Under our successful NO Place Like Home Initiative more than 2000 homes were rebuilt.
Later, we began Individual Development Accounts—helping low-wage earners save and build assets through purchasing homes, automobiles and other items to rebuild their lives.
Working with community partners, we’ve helped prepare more than 41,000 tax returns for local residents. That has put nearly 32-million dollars back into the pockets of low-wage earners through Earned Income Tax Credits. And, resulted in almost 61-million dollars in total tax refunds.
Through our public policy work, the most aggressive package of bills ever introduced to stop domestic violence was unanimously passed by the state legislature and signed into law. We’ve also continued to advocate for high quality early education and more.
Our new Club Connect Early Grade Reading Initiative provides books and online resources to elementary schools most in need of improving early grade reading.
Today United Way is focusing on three key building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Health, and Income. We all benefitwhen children succeed in school, people are healthy and productive, and families are financially stable. UWSELA currently supports 113 programs for your children to your grandparents.
We have listened and learned from 63 community conversations held across our seven parishes. From those, poverty emerged as the over-arching ‘Big Issue’ that affects everyone who lives here.
Our region has higher poverty rates than the nation, 29% compared to 16%. We all know that poverty continues to be a significant challenge in the city, but it’s spreading to the suburbs where fully 56% of the area’s poor population now lives. Median household income is at $44,004, $6,000 less than the nation’s, and slightly lower than it was in 1979.
We want businesses and individuals to join us in developing strategies and partnerships. Together we can educate and empower people to help lift them out of poverty. We can create a stronger, better community.
By joining together and each of us doing our part, we can help individuals and families know they are not alone in their time of need. We can help neighborhoods… this is the power of community. This is the power of United Way.
Aspire to change tomorrow starting today. “What this place needs” is YOU!