After nearly a year of helping elderly and disabled homeowners begin the clean-up process in flood-ravaged New Orleans, Catholic Charities volunteers will gut their 1,000th home Wednesday.
To date, 6,848 Operation Helping Hands volunteers have gutted 999 homes and given 178,641 hours of service. Volunteers have come from across the United States and as far as Canada and England to join in this effort.
“We started the Helping Hands project over Thanksgiving weekend last year and are so grateful to see how it has taken off,” Joan Diaz, Project Manager, said. “1,000 homes gutted means that 1,000 families have started to rebuild not only their homes, but also their lives.”
More than 3,000 volunteers are scheduled to participate in Operation Helping Hands through March 2007 and about 1,300 homes remain on the waiting list.
A group from Dubuque, Iowa will work on Isaac Bolden’s Gentilly home, which took 10 feet of water in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Like many New Orleanians, Mr. Bolden did not hold flood insurance and suffers from major health problems. He is currently living in an apartment in Atlanta, but is traveling back to New Orleans by train to thank the volunteers for bringing him one step closer to healing.
Over the past year, Catholic Charities has helped over one million people. At present its efforts are centered on long-term reconstruction of the affected areas.
Historic Knights of Columbus Effort
A Catholic organization, The Knights of Columbus have also contributed over $10 million and hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work to victims of the hurricanes which struck the Gulf Coast.
The Knights response through its Gulf States Disaster Relief Fund has been one of the most dramatic in its 124 year history providing badly needed resources to the Catholic Charities offices in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, when they were overwhelmed with thousands of people who escaped the storm with little but the clothes they were wearing.
The Knights of Columbus also made significant contributions to the restoration of Catholic education in the affected areas, making it possible for 83 of the city’s Catholic schools to reopen.
One year after Katrina’s assault on the U.S. coast, Knight leader Karl Anderson said that "it is clear that much remains to be done. But it is also clear that the response to the crisis by faith-based volunteer organizations like the Knights of Columbus was a bright spot in the wrenching aftermath of this immense natural disaster." (Catholic Charities)