Patrick Tanner’s Legacy
In 1997, 19-year-old Patrick Tanner moved south to work for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity as an AmeriCorps member. Patrick’s sister Liza still remembers the spaghetti dinner her brother prepared for Liza and their parents when they visited him in New Orleans. “When Patrick cooked us dinner in his new apartment, he showed me what an adult he had become,” Liza said. “And he was so proud to show the improvements he was making to the apartment, using skills he had learned at Habitat.”
Sadly, Patrick died shortly thereafter. Since his death, Liza and her parents John and Nancy Tanner have taken on his passion for service. “His work with New Orleans Habitat certainly inspired my family’s dedication to that cause,” Liza said. “He helped us to understand how volunteering with Habitat can be empowering as you’re learning a new skill, helping a family to build a home.” The Tanners have given generously to NOAHH for years. They are also active with Habitat’s DC affiliate, for whom they coordinate an annual build day that draws friends from all over the country in honor of Patrick. “It has been such a meaningful way to continue Patrick’s legacy,” said Liza.
In her first trip to New Orleans since the late 90s, Liza scheduled time to meet with NOAHH staff and volunteers, and see the work that her family’s support makes possible. “It was really wonderful to see the work that’s being done by New Orleans Habitat – the houses being built [in New Orleans East] and the large groups of volunteers.”
Members of NOAHH’s Advancement team accompanied Liza and her husband Mike to Hermes Street in New Orleans East, where they toured some of the houses built over the past year. “The need is so prevalent. I certainly didn’t see it when we drove around in 1997 because Katrina hadn’t happened. Seeing the X’s still on the homes from Katrina, I got a view of New Orleans that you don’t see as a tourist. ”
The NOAHH home that houses AmeriCorps members now displays a plaque memorializing Patrick’s commitment to the people of New Orleans. “I was absolutely taken aback and it was so emotional to see a house where AmeriCorps volunteers stay,” said Liza. “A few houses in a row with a garden create a little community. It was so meaningful to see his legacy continue there.”