Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Freret Neighborhood Center

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So, it’s December. This month always seems to pop up and surprise me. The past few weeks have flown by rather quickly — I was able to take a bit of time off to take a quick trip with some friends I’m rarely able to see, and to spend some time at home with my little niece Zoey (and all those other family members, too). Last week, my co-worker Yasin and I had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for a Neighborworks Training Institute, where we had the chance to take a few workshops that will transform us into bigger and stronger nonprofit superheroes. My superhero name is “InvisiLiz”. Yasin, quite stoically, says his is “Boomer Boom Boom.”
Things at the FNC have been moving along. As I’ve previously mentioned, our director Eva Sohl moved on from her position at the Freret Neighborhood Center. It was really sad for all of us. I initially just felt relief — happy that she would be able to sit back and breathe again — but it truly feels like a different place without her. We did, however, give her a great send-off. Tons of friends, volunteers, and neighbors spent their Friday evening with us. They brought food, gifts, and incredibly kind words. Neighbors stood up and spoke about the impact Eva has had on this neighborhood, on their families, on them personally. It was incredibly touching, and a welcome reminder of what community is all about and why this work matters. Afterwards, we headed over to Other Bar and shared a few drinks. So many Freret characters were in attendance: Miss Annie Mae, who co-heads the senior program and is always down to cook spaghetti casserole for us. D’Art, who has been working steadily on rebuilding his previously blighted house after defeating the city’s attempts to sell it. Scott, the owner of the super charming coffee shop across the street (Rook Cafe). D.K., who grew up in the Milan neighborhood and is now an NHS board member. Kim, the founding director of the FNC. It was just… really great.
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A few days after Eva’s going away party, we took part in the Evan’s Park Booster Club Kick-Off and Freret Get-Together! Months ago, we held an advisory board meeting where about 15-20 neighbors came to talk about whatever concerns they have, about what the FNC is doing, and more. The focus of this meeting quickly shifted towards the children in our neighborhood and the lack of activities that are provided for them. Neighbors wondered about the park down the street — could a Booster Club be formed? It took one neighbor (the amazing Leslie Johnson) to say that she would head it, and it has now come to fruition. Starting next month, there will be supervised activities in the park. Residents have shown great interest, as have many of the Freret businesses. The kick-off event went incredibly well. A lot of people came out, and we held all sorts of different activities — stretching, dodgeball, kickball, basketball, mural painting, and more!
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All in all, it has been a great month for community. OH! Also — thanks to Merry for pointing out that we were featured in this GOOD Magazine article in early November!
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This entry was posted on December 17, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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