[StBernard] 100th house rebuilt by grass-roots group

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Mar 13 18:39:47 EDT 2008

100th house rebuilt by grass-roots group
Thursday, March 13, 2008
By Barry Lemoine

She may live in Arabi on the corner of Easy Street, but things haven't been
easy for Jocelyn Heintz of Arabi. In fact, after Hurricane Katrina, the
single mother of two daughters was forced to live in a camper for eight
months without hot water.

Thanks to the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit, grass-roots organization
committed to helping families build homes, the Heintz family recently moved
back into their home -- with hot water included.

The completion of the Heintz home marks the 100th home that the St. Bernard
Project has rebuilt.

Using volunteer labor and donations for building supplies, the group can
rebuild a home that has been gutted to the studs in eight to 12 weeks. On
average, each project costs about $10,000 for building supplies.

With a motto of "Rebuilding the lives of Katrina survivors: family by
family," over the past 20 months, the St. Bernard Project has utilized the
time and talents of more than 5,500 volunteers from around the nation and
from more than 50 countries.

According to Liz McCartney, project director and co-founder, the St. Bernard
Project focuses on people who face the biggest barriers to getting back in
their home, including seniors, the disabled and families with young

"Specifically, we work with families who cannot afford to hire a contractor
to rebuild their homes," she said.

McCartney said Heintz's story was compelling.

"We knew right away that with a little hand up Joycelyn and her kids could
get back to living a normal life. So we started working on her house the day
after Thanksgiving," McCartney said. "She found comfort in sharing her story
dozens of times with volunteers from all over the country. And many of the
volunteers found inspiration in Jocelyn's tireless commitment to rebuilding
her family's life. In less than three months the house was done."

McCartney and co-founder Zack Rosenburg first came to St. Bernard Parish
from Washington, D.C., in February 2006 to volunteer, providing hot meals
and clothing to residents. McCartney said she was touched by the plight of
so many people.

"We could not believe that in America good people could be left homeless and
hungry. So, we decided to come back to the area and help," she said.

And help they have.

Their rebuilding work includes exterior and roofing work, framing repair,
electrical work, plumbing, insulation and drywall, interior texturing and
painting, flooring and cabinets, interior doors, baseboards and trim work.

McCartney is quick to credit the generosity of others, including support
from the United Way, GE Foundation, Motiva, Tide, Women's Leadership Council
at United Way, Starfish Group, Shell Oil, Greater New Orleans Foundation,
Gambit Communications and hundreds of individual donors, faith-based groups
and civic partners.

"These groups provide us with funding for building supplies, staff
positions, vehicles and transportation, volunteer stipends, insurance and
more," McCartney said.

During a recent ribbon-cutting celebration outside of the Heintz home,
Rosenburg told spectators that while St. Bernard residents face significant
barriers, the barriers can be overcome.

"This is a solvable problem. But it's not going to be solved by the federal
government, but by real people. So, spread the word and let's keep going."

And showing that he has adjusted well to life in Louisiana, Rosenburg added,
"OK, now let's eat."

. . . . . . .

Barry Lemoine is an Arabi resident who writes about people and events in
Arabi. He can be reached at barrybravo at yahoo.com or (504) 301-8770.

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