Great American Cleanup Day Brings Neighborhood Groups Together With New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

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Braving the New Orleans summer heat, volunteers turned up Saturday morning to help with neighborhood cleanup efforts in the Upper Ninth Ward, joining NOAHH as part of the Great American Cleanup Day, an event that brought four other local organizations and two city agencies together with Keep Louisiana Beautiful and NOAHH.

NOAHH’s community engagement has grown in recent years as part of an ongoing attempt to reach out and further the goals of the organization, taking a wide angle view of our mission to eliminate poverty housing. While building homes for hard working families fulfills that mission, there’s still more that can be done. By addressing blight, litter, and other community concerns, NOAHH is helping to both improve the quality of life for our homeowners and to improve our relationship with the communities in which we build.

“New Orleans Habitat has always kept the bigger picture in mind when working across the metro area,” stated Jim Pate, Executive Director, NOAHH. “Communities in which we have built can benefit tremendously from a combination of new home construction and neighborhood clean-up/repair projects. Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s partnership allows us to combine these projects in a way that just makes sense.”

The cleanup day marked the culmination of this spring’s Attack the Block program, which featured four major neighborhood cleanups throughout the city. These cleanup days saw over 600 volunteers collecting over 300 bags of trash, removing over 100 tires, and clearing over 70 sidewalks. At the Great American Cleanup Day, they also built three park benches and two raised garden beds for the Sankofa Community Development Corporation, one of many groups working with NOAHH to flight blight by using empty lots for gardens.

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These numbers can convey some sense of what was done over the course of the spring, but they don’t fully capture the impact of the program. Much like the full measure of a new home is found in the looks of joy on the homeowners’ faces during a dedication, and not in the cost of materials and mortgages, the value of these neighborhood cleanup days is found not just in how much trash was removed, but also in the good will engendered in our neighbors and partners in every area we “attacked the block.”

By engaging local partnerships with Bunny Friend Neighborhood Association, HandsOn New Orleans, Akili Academy of New Orleans, and city agencies like NORD and the Department of Sanitation, NOAHH is not just expanding what we’re capable of doing, but also attempting to foster relationships that will make all of us better at serving the needs of the New Orleans area.