Executive Director, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans
photo by cheryl gerber
Youth Rebuilding New Orleans (YRNO) is a unique volunteer organization that relies on the city’s young people to help with reconstruction work. The organization purchases blighted homes, rebuilds them with the help of young volunteers and then sells them to teachers at a price below market value. In doing so, YRNO helps reduce blight in the city, teaches valuable construction and service skills to youth and ensures teachers have affordable housing.
William Stoudt, current executive director for YRNO, got involved in volunteering as a junior in high school and realized that a lot of students his age wanted to get involved in the rebuilding effort. However, many organizations are hesitant to have minors participate in construction work because of the associated liabilities.
YRNO started as a grassroots effort from a group of young people dedicated to rebuilding the city. As the all-volunteer organization grew, it added an employee board, gained 501(c) nonprofit status, and brought paid employees on board. Now YRNO hosts youth volunteer groups from all over the country to paint fences, pour framework and complete other necessary rebuilding tasks to bring blighted homes back to life.
Stoudt notes that teachers have a big impact on the lives of young people in New Orleans, so it was natural for the youth-centric YRNO to help the city’s teachers in some way. Therefore, the rebuilt homes are sold to deserving teachers. YRNO recently purchased a block of four properties on the same corner, so they were able to rehabilitate the homes to create a teacher village.
“This is an opportunity for youth to give back to teachers, who then give back to young people,” says Stoudt.
At this time, YRNO needs contribution and support from the community, as well as additional volunteers. Furthermore, just spreading the word about YRNO to potential young volunteers and teachers allows to organization to help even more people in the New Orleans area. Stoudt encourages anyone interested to follow the organization’s progress on its website or Facebook page.
For more information, visit YRNO.com, Facebook.com/YouthRebuildingNOLA, on Twitter @YRNOla or by calling 264-3344.