Songs From the Heart Wall Raising

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In August 2015, NOAHH hosted two Songs From the Heart concerts with Nonesuch Records and Warner Brothers Records. The two concerts–the first with Randy Newman and the second with Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell–raised enough money to fund an entire house. On December 16, NOAHH invited friends and supporters to the Lower Ninth Ward to celebrate raising the walls on the Songs From the Heart home.

Marty Peters, a local musician, chose the lot for his home with a friend, Reid Poole. The lots, located in a quiet corner of the Lower Ninth, were donated by the Doerr family. Jamie Doerr and her mother joined NOAHH on site for the wall raising, and they spoke of how long the land had been with their family. The specific lot that Marty’s home will now be on once was where Jamie’s grandfather’s brick home stood.

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“Well, we’ve been having them for a very long time,” Jamie said, “and we’ve always had issues with keeping it up. People would dump stuff over here. And we really wanted ultimately for somebody to use this property for something positive. We feel really good. It feels nice to see something positive going on on the property. You know, it’s been dormant for a very long time and it’s nice to see some life being brought back to it.”

Like many NOAHH partner families, Marty found the sight of his walls going up to be inspiring.

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“This is amazing, actually. Like the feeling is… it’s difficult to describe,” he said, “but being able to come here and see the foundation, the wall going up, it’s difficult to describe. It’s overwhelming. That’s for sure.”

NOAHH was joined on site by students from Florida International University who were on an alternative break trip. Students at FIU sign up and asked to choose their three favorite causes. The Alternative Term Breaks program then assigns them to a trip. Trip leader Robinson Ospina signed up to serve because of his experiences with homelessness.

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“First impression? Joy,” he said of volunteering. “Joy and happiness, but it was a little hard at first, building the floor. But we got through it.”

He and several of his fellow students helped Marty lift the walls to his home after Marty played a little music for the crowd. With the first wall up, the students, supporters, and staff signed the studs of the house, leaving messages of good will within Marty’s future walls.