Working Alongside Communities
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sixteen-foot-tall storm surges overwhelmed the levy system and 80% of the city became flooded. The damage was catastrophic. The country responded.
Headwaters’ began as a grassroots volunteer effort providing disaster relief in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, one of the most devastated areas of the city. Initially we assisted with gutting and interior debris clean up. As more volunteers joined us, we developed partnerships with other organizations and moved into re-building.
In 2007 Headwaters’ volunteers committed to long-term support of the Ninth Ward community when we opened a walk-in mental resource health center. The River of Hope Mental Health Resource Center was founded to help the Ninth Ward community. Its goal is to help the community recover psychologically and deal with lingering emotional trauma.
The resource center offers free counseling, referral to other resources if needed and community education to those who might not otherwise have access to mental health support. The center is particularly important in supporting the unmet needs of children in that area. We have published three research studies related to our work in New Orleans, two in partnership with Lesley University and one with Georgetown University.
Walk-in Mental Health Resource Center
Headwaters began as a grassroots volunteer effort providing disaster relief in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, one of the most devastated areas of the city. Initially we assisted with gutting and interior debris clean up. As more volunteers joined us, we developed partnerships with other organizations and moved into re-building.
In 2007 Headwaters’ volunteers committed to long-term support of the Ninth Ward community when we opened a walk-in mental resource health center. The resource center offers free counseling, referral to other resources if needed and community education to those who might not otherwise have access to mental health support. The center is particularly important in supporting the unmet needs of children in that area.
The center is open every Saturdays and Thursdays, twice a week.
Celebrating Community Spirit
New Orleans Fall Festival, 2023
New Orleans, a city rich in culture and resilience, has been a focal point for Headwaters Relief Organization since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Headwaters, originally as the River of Hope, had its beginnings there. Over the years, we have forged lasting partnerships with local entities, notably the New Salem Baptist Church. These collaborations have led to the establishment of a walk-in mental health resource center for the youth of the Ninth Ward, a vital initiative that has been in operation for more than 15 years.
To express our gratitude to the community and rekindle connections, we jointly organized a vibrant fall festival on September 30th, 2023, at the mental health resource center. This event was not only a celebration of the longstanding bond we share with the residents of the Ninth Ward but also an opportunity to showcase the services we provide and reinforce our commitment to the community.
The fall festival was a one-day extravaganza filled with joy, laughter, and camaraderie and a medical clinic run in partnership with Baptist Community Health Services. Its purpose was two-fold: to celebrate the enduring spirit of the community that stood by us in times of need and to introduce newcomers to the impactful work we continue to do. The event served as a testament to the resilience of the community and our unwavering dedication to supporting the well-being of its youth.
The festival featured an array of engaging activities catering to all age groups. From bouncy house, snow cone to interactive games for the youngsters and informative workshops and discussions for adults, the event aimed to create an inclusive and enjoyable atmosphere. Local artists and musicians added a vibrant touch, infusing the air with the unmistakable rhythm of New Orleans
No celebration is complete without the joy of shared meals. The New Salem Baptist Church provided delicious food, showcasing the diverse culinary traditions that make New Orleans a gastronomic haven. This not only stimulated the local economy but also emphasized the importance of communal dining and fellowship.
Acknowledging the Partners:
The success of the New Orleans Fall Festival would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our partners. New Salem Baptist Church played a pivotal role in facilitating the event, showcasing the power of collaboration in community development. Additionally, the Baptist Community Health Services contributed significantly to the festival’s success, underlining the importance of holistic well-being. In addition, our team of committed volunteers made this event a testimony to the power of giving.
New Orleans Fall Festival was not just a celebration; it was a reaffirmation of the bonds that tie us to the Ninth Ward community. We express our heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteers, partners, and supporters who made this event possible. As we move forward, we are inspired by the spirit of New Orleans, and we remain committed to providing essential services to the community. The festival was not just a moment in time; it was a celebration of the enduring strength and resilience of the people we are privileged to serve.
After School Program
The main objective with this initiative was to provide a comprehensive model that helps mitigate systemic inequities that affect children of color and in doing so we will address health disparities by increasing fitness and overall nutrition and wellness; confront educational inequities through additional support to the education these children receive at school; and provide leadership training for future successes during the pandemic.
This program ran through the academic year of 2021- 2022.
- We recruited a dedicated team of two staff members (teachers), one security personnel and volunteers- all from the same community and people of color. We recognize that we are guests in this community and have always worked with community leaders to design programming that meets the needs of the community.
- We were able to connect the center with high-speed internet, equip with two new laptops, purchase required stationeries and supplies.
- Covid-19 precautions- The center was setup following standard Covid-19 protocols. All our staff and volunteers have completed their vaccination schedule. We also provided the center with children’s masks and hand sanitizers. Wearing a mask was compulsory, for both students and the staff while in the premise.
We also have resumed our walk-in mental health resource center for the youth in the community which was temporarily halted due to the pandemic.
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