As part of its commitment to community service, Return Path has sponsored two teams of people to go to New Orleans to assist Habitat for Humanity in the post-Katrina and Rita clean up and rebuilding effort. Our colleague Tom Bartel wrote about the experience in helping with the clean up team last year. And just last week six of us (Russ Bird, Dan Deneweth, Lisa Filipek, Ezra Fischer, Stephanie Miller and Melinda Plemel) headed down to the Crescent City and found there is still very much to be done more than 15 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Here’s a quick glimpse at our efforts, to give you an idea of the daily struggles still faced in the New Orleans area.
The best part of doing this sort of thing is always the people you meet. We stayed at St. Timothy’s church (think college dorm room) with another small group from Ohio. The gracious church folks invited us all to their Tuesday night barbecue. And of course the Habitat construction crews are just wonderful people. This small group of five staffers have built and opened more than 50 homes just this year (with more to come). They have the patience of Job – imagine trying to do your job with six to eight volunteers who are well meaning, overly eager and absolutely incompetent. Oh, and add in some really dangerous power tools while you are at it. These men are joyful, really love teaching and make the whole endeavor a lot of fun. What a great lesson in leadership.
It’s hard to be out of the office and a little out of touch with clients (conference calls from the hot car on a loud job site are not fun). But it was wonderful to be even a small part of this important work, and we are all grateful to our CEO Matt Blumberg and the rest of the Return Path family for giving us a chance to participate.