HandsOn New Orleans
In A Nutshell:
They host citizens from around the world, as well as provide service opportunities for citizens in the New Orleans community. Whether you are one person or a corporate team, they provide worthwhile and effective volunteer options such as rebuilding homes, child care services, and ‘green’ projects.
Why They Rock:
- Hands@Work: provides all-inclusive management of service projects helping organizations and individuals.
- Tool Lending Library: community members, non-profit partners, and volunteers are able to borrow the tools they need for service projects.
- Volunteer Housing: provide an affordable home for visiting volunteers who come from around the world to help rebuild and revitalize New Orleans.
- Volunteer Leader Training: equip individuals to identify and plan their own service projects, as well as teach them how to manage and recruit volunteers, offered at no cost!
I had the privilege restoring a 170 year-old historic home in New Orleans, and my highlights came from the owner Dwayne: absorbed valuable knowledge on giving, became an expert on good soil, and enjoyed his Bob Marley on guitar…nobody can compare with the music of Marley but there is definitely a Legend in NOLA giving back more to volunteers than they can give to him.
Minutes from the French Quarter, I arrive early morning for the house tour led by Dwayne and learned about the fires, Katrina, thieves…everything this home has seen. I was put on painting duty to beautify the upstairs balcony…they loved my work so much (epic fail if I couldn’t paint inside the lines) that his kind wife Kindal asked to me to do touch-up on their wrought-iron fence.
For lunch, Dwayne and his son Colby bought tasty fried chicken (local style) and I enjoyed a guitar session along with great life stories/lessons…which pretty much lasted the entire day. The afternoon was dedicated to gardening activities – horticulture education, potting plants, and watering…wish my last co-worker was there to hear Diet Coke will kill your plants and their feelings!
Dwayne is like a friendly rock star – all day people came to see him: neighborhood friends, volunteers from Massachusetts, delivery men…he always made time to introduce me as his buddy. At least three people asked for favors and he didn’t hesitate and wanted nothing in return; come to my house for landscaping advice, can I get a few dollars for a drink, or can I borrow a tool…one thing he said interesting in regards to giving (more or less), “they don’t have to give me anything ever, just hope they are giving to others or some cause.”
My NOLA (I’m so local) hospitality included: 4 cats, 2 dogs, and Lynda – down-to-earth former art dealer who had an art-tastic house…dog statues from Xena, Bob’s Big Boy porcelain figurines (I crave their chicken noodle soup, has to be Jersey Turnpike), and zebra-lined felt book cases…I could keep going…Lynda and her home is a bayou gem.
HandsOn New Orleans is like the silent middle man that creates volunteer magic…not once did I mention them while writing, similar as if you don’t remember the referee in a professional soccer match, which means they most likely were good. HandsOn is about connecting people to projects with meaning; and I was lucky to experience both – rebuild in a city that refuses to say au revoir after the devastation of Katrina, and I met a man whose knowledge on giving is luckily leaving New Orleans on the 50Give tour.
“Let the motive be in the deed and not in the event. Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward.” — Kreeshna