For the last 27 years, the Junior League of New Orleans has partnered with the Preservation Resource Center (PRC’s) Rebuilding Together program and Shell Corporation to renovate the houses of low-income homeowners in New Orleans. Over the years, this project has not only become a signature initiative for JLNO, but a game-changing resource for New Orleans families and neighborhoods.
In 2017, however, Rebuilding Together undertook an exciting new change in direction: in keeping with the core mission of the project, volunteers from JLNO, Shell, the PRC and Ochsner Baptist expanded their reach from homes to community assets by focusing on the Hollygrove Farm and Market. Through JLNO’s efforts, more than 600 service hours over 3.5 days went into priming and painting the exterior and interior of the market, laying new bamboo floors, building planters and benches, laying gravel, building a greenhouse, landscaping and weeding.
Junior League New Orleans Rebuilding Together Committee Members (L-R): Logan Senior, Katie Roth, Brielle Bovee, Committee Chairs Meg McKown and Lindsey Labadie, Meredith Duke, Claire Fahey, Skye Price, Jacqueline Bodet and Elizabeth Applewhite.
Through this new endeavor, JLNO’s partnerships, impacts and reputation across the community were greatly expanded. As Paul Baricos, Executive Director of the Hollygrove Market and Farm, said “The Junior League and Shell volunteers were amazing. They came to work and work they did. The renovation of the second floor and other areas of our building as an event/meeting space is an integral part of our master plan and will put us on a path to financial sustainability. We couldn’t have done it without them. We owe them a lot of thanks.”
Rebuilding Together benefits more than just the market and its patrons: it has a profound impact on the JLNO volunteers who engage as well. As Rebuilding Together Committee Member Christie Clemens said, “This committee was such a transformative experience. A lot of sweat and really hard work made this two weekend build something that will stick with me…I made some great friends and formed unique bonds I won’t soon forget. [I] loved it even when I was hating it—building a greenhouse and stripping screws and dripping blobs of paint on my head.”
Committee Member Jacqueline Bodet agrees, saying, “Rebuilding Together is a unique hands-on experience that puts JLNO members’ passion into action in our community. So often, we contribute to fundraisers or specialized shifts that we know will make long-term changes … but we may not see the immediate fruits of our labors. Rebuilding Together, however, is its own real-time reward.”
As Rebuilding Together approaches a milestone anniversary in several years, it is exciting to not only see the program evolve in new directions, but continue to meet community-wide needs and broker exciting new partnerships for the Junior League. Regardless of where Rebuilding Together heads, Jacqueline encourages other JLNO members to get involved, saying, “It has been a true joy to serve on this committee, and I personally encourage all JLNO members to take at least one Rebuilding Together shift during their active service. Come on, ladies – get your hands dirty! You just might like it!”
DeltaCorps member, Berhane Cole, and Rebuilding Together New Orleans Site Operations Coordinator, Scott Maher.