In conjunction with the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, EPTA decided to reach a little further into the community. Knowing that there were so many children who were young when their homes were destroyed, we started dialoguing with two organizations that are trying to help youth. Many of them are now teens, and are anxious to move on with their lives as young adults. EPTA’s Youth Project Initiative will begin its work in NOLA with two incredible organizations, Covenant House NOLA and Liberty’s Kitchen. In working with these not for profits as they assist troubled youth, we hope to aid those serviced at these facilities as they start a new chapter in their lives.
Liberty’s Kitchen is leading an opportunity revolution for New Orleans’ vulnerable youth. Their Youth Development Program helps disconnected young people thrive both in the workplace and in life. They provide paths to self-sufficiency and stability through life skills training, referrals to essential services, and foodservice-based workforce training. Since their start in 2009, they have helped over 350 young people move themselves towards productive, independent adulthood.
Liberty’s Kitchen School Nutrition Program provides freshly prepared, healthy meals to area school children and educates them on the importance of healthy food. As an innovative supply chain intervention, they address the scarcity of socially responsible food providers in New Orleans schools and have prepared over one million meals in the last five years – and more than 3,500 meals daily. By ensuring better nutrition in school, Liberty’s Kitchen contributes to the fight to end the epidemic of childhood obesity and increase youth achievement.
In the months leading up to our visit, our EPTA volunteers worked behind the scenes to create a special afternoon for the residents and staff of Covenant House. With “Cov Carnival”, EPTA underwrote the costs of carnival games including a bounce around, mechanical bull, dunk tank and more. With a DJ, face painting and many more activities and food, the day was filled with laughter, dancing and hugs. In the end the residents enjoyed an escape from their daily routine and the staff found new ways to interact with them in an environment that encouraged trust and hope for the future. Rich Arnold, Director of Development and Communications at Covenant House NOLA commented, “When our youth population develop a sense of trust with their case workers, we experience the most success in their outcomes. Cov Carnival 2015 provided a perfect opportunity for meaningful interaction which built a trust that continues to this day”.