Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

The OK List of America's Best

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

As we congratulate Bill and Kathy Magee and Senator Orrin Hatch on their well-deserved recognition in November’s U.S. News & World Report, we are mindful of other great leaders with whom we have had the privilege of working during the past year. With that, I’d like to contribute an “Operation Kids: America’s Best Leaders in 2009″ by highlighting additional leaders who have made an enormous impact in their communities and, due to their commitment and influence, the world.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: In 1989 Anthony created a mentoring program on his college campus. That project turned into a life’s work. Today, through his stewardship and entrepreneurial spirit, Best Buddies® has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasingly international reach across six continents. It has established a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They positively impact more than 400,000 participants every year.  The organization is active in each of the 50 United States, and operates accredited international programs in 44 countries.

Drew Brees:   When Drew left the San Diego Chargers and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he and his wife Brittany took a higher view of the situation. They believed that they were directed to New Orleans for a reason, and committed to become part of the community. They immediately sought way to help rebuild post-Katrina. Today, Drew and Brittany have rebuilt nearly a dozen successful projects including athletic facilities, day care centers and critical education programs. Their adopted city of New Orleans have hailed them as true “Saints” in the city.

Steve Young: With an NFL Hall of Fame career behind him, Steve maintains a broadcast career, participates in a private equity firm, and continues to provide leadership of the Forever Young Foundation. Forever Young Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. They focus on efforts to provide academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities to at-risk youth. They have expanded beyond their historical focus on Northern California, Arizona and Utah, to include development projects like the Forever Young Zones, Youth Education Town Centers (YET Centers) in each Super Bowl city and now, international initiatives including the building and expansion of schools in Ghana, Africa.

John A. (Jack) Calhoun: In his “retirement,” Jack manages the 13-California City Gang Prevention Network for the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. In 2007 and has published a book, Hope Matters: The Untold Story of How Faith Works in America. He has spent a lifetime attempting to improve the lot of children and families and the communities in which they live. President Carter appointed Jack to the nation’s top children’s job, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, where he oversaw such programs as Head Start, Child Welfare, The Center to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Office for Families. For 20 years he served at the National Crime Prevention Council as its President and CEO. He also has served as Vice President of the Child Welfare League of America, was the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services, and chair of both the Adolescent and the State of the Family Task Forces.

We give our deepest gratitude and respect to these great Americans who have truly made an enormous impact on their communities and the world around them.

Charting Course for the Future

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Herbert is a very quiet 8th grader.  He doesn’t talk much, but is always respectful and courteous, and good academically.  When New Orleans Outreach started offering the Power Ties career awareness workshops to Herbert and his classmates, he questioned whether it would be useful for him, and whether he’d have anything to contribute to his resume. 

“I haven’t done anything, so maybe this workshop is not for me…” he said. 

The Outreach coordinator probed a bit and discovered that Herbert has a passion for cooking.  In fact, he had cooked for many family gatherings and cooked dinner regularly at home.  He had no idea that this would be good fodder for his resume, or that his enjoyment of the cooking process could lead to a career. The coordinator helped Herbert document his cooking experience, and he walked out with his first professional resume

After that Herbert’s outlook on Power Ties and his own future changed dramatically.  He thoroughly enjoyed the remaining Power Ties workshops, was engaged in the mock interview practice sessions, and wrote our coordinator a beautiful thank-you  note about how much he appreciated the program and how it had changed his life.  Best of all, he was able to visit Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant on the day of jobsite visits and he showed a deep interest in the business and restaurant operations. 

Because the New Orleans Outreach Power Ties program helped crystallize his passion, Herbert now plans to go to culinary school after graduating high school.  He has a clear vision of having a successful career doing something he loves, and he now knows the steps to take to get there.  

As part of our “Back to School in New Orleans” campaign, this is the fourth in a series of short anecdotes about the children helped by one of our partner organization,  New Orleans Outreach and the volunteers and partners they utilize that are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of one – or thousands – of children each day.