Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

To My Mommas – Maggie Birkel [Eden House]

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Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a busy 48 hours at Eden House – at least not 48 hours that touched on such a wide array of the realities of non-profit life.  Since Tuesday morning May 6th, we have implemented a highly successful GiveNOLA campaign day, welcomed two new residents into our family, and all while part of our team is in New York City meeting with fellow service providers and other key leaders in the fight against human trafficking and other related issues.  In these 48 hours I have been blessed by the support of friends and family from all over the country who have rallied to back the work we are doing here in New Orleans — friends who were hearing about Eden House for the first time, others who have witnessed my growth and been a part of all the conversations, studying, and reflecting that eventually brought me to New Orleans and to the world of social justice.

As New Orleans basks in the thick of a wonderful spring and we near Mother’s Day – I can’t help but reflect on all the inspirational, beautiful women who have been a part of my development.  Throughout my almost two years at Eden House, their example and advice have been at the heart of everything I do — my rock when I doubt my own abilities, my sounding board when I’m contemplating next steps, and my cheering squad when I need an extra boost or it is time to celebrate.  My love and deep commitment to the challenges women face everyday is directly linked to the incredible women who have taught me, loved me, and motivated me.  It is their wisdom, love, and passion that I seek to emulate on a daily basis and share with everyone I come in contact with through my work and life in this crazy, beautiful city.  Though there are many women near and dear to my heart and two communities that were key to my early empowerment (shout outs to NCS and Foundry) — I want to take the quickest of minutes to shine a light of love on three women who this Mother’s Day and truly everyday spark the work I do at Eden House.

Wanda – Thank you for being one of my earliest teachers about the important role each person plays in this world and the responsibility that comes with being a citizen of the world.  Showering people with love and giving of all of yourself to everything you do is not a choice, it is simply how you live your life and I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have learned by your example.

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Mama Eliot – Not a day goes by I don’t reflect to myself – what would Mama Eliot advise me to do or, perhaps more importantly, what insightful question would she ask me so that I’d work through it on my own?  Your humor, love, and smarts in the classroom equipped me with tools I use everyday.  I, we miss you all the time, but know you’re looking down laughing, loving, and working along with us.

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And of course my Momma/ABY – as a child it seemed you woke up every morning with a couple extra hours in your day, that was the only plausible way you were able to accomplish all you did.  Now I see that it is really that you tackle everything you take on with love, determination, compassion, and faith.  Your energy and accomplishments stem from your love of life, your devotion to being fully engaged, and your commitment to improving the world for everyone.  I am blessed to be your daughter.

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Alright readers, if you’ve made it this far let me throw in a small caveat — I fully intended for this post to be a fairly straightforward assessment of our GiveNOLA campaign and my continued exploration of the world of nonprofit development….. Clearly things evolved a bit along the way. Thank you to New Orleans and the rest of the country for a great day of national giving.  Thank you to the two lovely ladies who have entered our program and in doing so have expanded the Eden House family.  And thank you to all the role models I have been blessed to have had along my journey.


Eden House is groundbreaking non-profit in New Orleans, Louisiana, offering long term housing and services to survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. We are the first of our kind in the state of Louisiana. Our two-year residential program offers a holistic approach to recovery including outreach, housing, food, mental and physical healthcare, job training, education, and spiritual support. Eden House offers survivors a safe place to dream and overcome their pasts, while developing substantive skills to move forward in their lives and become self-sufficient, flourishing members of society. Please visit our website to learn more about the work we do: http://www.edenhousenola.org




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