Posts Tagged ‘rebuild’

Lusher Field Gift from NADA

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Last week was an exciting milestone for our New Orleans “Rebuilding Dreams” campaign, as we received our biggest gift to date, a $400,000 contribution from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation (NADCF) to rebuild the athletic field at Lusher Charter School. Construction of the field should begin in the next month and be completed in October.  Once completed, the field will be used for competitive football, soccer, baseball and softball, and for physical education classes at the school.

In addition to the NADCF gift, the Allstate Foundation earlier donated $50,000 to the project.  The Brees Dream Foundation also contributed a significant amount to rebuilding the field.

There were several reasons why we chose to support Lusher:
First, Lusher is a great school academically – with early college credit classes, gifted/talented programs, and AP courses – and creatively – the school incorporates the arts throughout the curriculum with comprehensive arts education (CAE) and an award-winning performing arts program.  We wanted to help with the third leg of its curriculum – athletics.

Second, we believe in the leadership of the school, from the president and principal and board members to its staff, students and parents.  They are innovative, they work hard, they are accountable, and they have a vision to create one of the top schools in New Orleans.  And they are well on their way to doing that.

Finally, this field will be used by more than Lusher students – neighboring schools and local recreation programs will also play games there. Parks, playgrounds and athletic facilities are in short supply in New Orleans; this field will help address that problem.  It will become a magnet for the surrounding community.

On behalf of the kids at Lusher, we extend our deepest gratitude to NADCF for their very generous gift.  We also thank our charity partners in New Orleans, Drew and Brittany Brees; Drew’s agent, Chris Stuart; and the folks at the Greater New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau for working so hard to make this happen.

As with all our New Orleans projects, we did a very thorough assessment of the Lusher School athletic field project before approving it.  We’ll continue to monitor the project closely as it moves forward to ensure that all funds are spent efficiently and effectively.

Blogging Live from New Orleans!

Friday, March 14th, 2008

As fate would have it, I find myself reading an AP article on another post-Katrina scandal, while in New Orleans. I am here making a site-check on various projects contained in our “Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans” campaign.

The article is troubling to say the least because, well, it is true. Just an hour ago I had a conversation with the head of the New Orleans Recreation Department and he concurred that the private contractor named in this article did indeed ignore advice to disperse funds through local banks and financial institutions. This means that rather than residents going to business they knew…and who knew them, they were forced to deal en mass with an outside company who rushed them through a sloppy process. Yes, it is true.

However, there is more to report and it is equally true. The “good news” does not seem to make the headlines for some reason. Under new state leadership, monies are beginning to flow to those in need. And there are smaller independent projects that are making a large difference. I have listed them before, and I look forward to the day when this does not bear repeating. With the support of relatively modest donations, Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans has opened the first fully accredited day care center post- Katrina, added a beautiful new playground, funded after school and internship programs for the Charter Science & Math High School, opened a new playground in partnership with the Allstate Foundation at Lyon’s Park and opened a new weight room at Lusher Charter School.

Electricians are pulling out old wiring and preparing to re-wire the lights so youth athletic programs can once again fully use Pontchartrain Park. The plans are now drawn for a complete football/baseball/soccer field at Lusher Charter School and the list continues.

I repeat this for one reason only; there are good stories to be told and good people to admire in New Orleans. I do not know why none of these stories hit the headlines. If the whole story is to be told, it should include both sides.

My concern is that New Orleans will be written off in the wake of these consistently negative stories. As much as those stories need to be told in order to keep a struggling system as honest as possible, please do not forget that there are parents, students, teachers and administrators; city council members, city and state employees and private contractors, who get up every morning and try against the toughest odds, to improve the city and the lives of future generations.   Join us as we celebrate a few successes in The Big Easy.