[StBernard] Group helps people rebuild lives and homes in St. Bernard

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Mon Mar 9 10:13:39 EDT 2009

What type of donations do they need ?


-----Original Message-----
Group helps people rebuild lives and homes in St. Bernard

06:08 PM CST on Friday, March 6, 2009

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News

ST. BERNARD, La. - The people of St. Bernard Parish are getting another gift
from volunteers, people who want to see the area and its families return to
normal after Hurricane Katrina.

Now there is a new free program that gives people a safe place to heal.

They are men and women who left their homes and livelihoods, from places
far away from Hurricane Katrina's devastation, and came to rebuild, house
by house, new homes for families of St. Bernard Parish.

The nationally recognized St. Bernard Project, a non-profit group, to date
has built 194 houses so families, friends and neighbors could be reunited
back home. The work is done with donations and volunteers from around the
globe. People such as Zack Rosenburg left the financial security of his
Washington, D.C., law practice to make a difference and call this area home.

"Hard working Americans, veterans, policeman, grandparents, people who owned
their homes, people who worked their whole lives, nothing was going on and
we figured, well we'd want someone to help our parents or grandparents,"
said Zack Rosenburg, director and co-founder of the St. Bernard Project.

But now the St. Bernard Project is branching out. Along with running the
construction end of this endeavor, rebuilding homes, it is now rebuilding

"We realized that building the homes for the residents is just part of the
equation. So many of our clients are alive but not fully living when they're
back home," adds Rosenburg.

So they partnered with LSU Health Sciences Center, bringing several
psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to St. Bernard. Nearly 30
hours a week they give free mental health care to people strong, courageous
and resilient enough to come home, but still feeling the stress and pain of
the country's worst natural disaster.

"Three and a half years later, we're seeing significant incidences of post
traumatic stress disorder, we're seeing significant incidences of
depression, we're seeing significant incidences of increased substance use
and abuse. If we think of it, it's logical the people use alcohol the
relieve stress," said Dr. Howard Osofsky, chairman of the Department of
Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Joycelyn Heintz knows firsthand the value of telling your story to
professionals or anyone who will listen. People who gave their time to the
St. Bernard Project gave her a new home and a safe place to let go of the

"I enjoyed my volunteers. I was working overnight so I was with my
volunteers everyday, bonding with them, telling them my story and it was a
healing process for me," she said.

Now she is working at the new Center for Wellness and Mental health, a place
she hopes the people of the parish will come for free screenings,
counseling, and body-mind-spirit wellness programs to get rid of the
Katrina hurt.

"During this whole three and a half years it was survival mode. Now that
they're in their homes they're like they have this emptiness. They are
realizing what we've lost. It's making me feel better and live better and
realize that we have to go on," said Heintz.

The clinic is open Monday through Friday and they take walk-in's and

The St. Bernard Project needs donations so they can open longer hours and to
Orleans Parish residents as well.

More information about the StBernard mailing list