Fighting Poverty with Passion
I am now nearing my fourth month as a Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow at the BIA and I must say that this month has been both exciting and stressful. On November 21st, 2015 (or November 14th for those that voted early), the parcel fee which supports the BIA improvement efforts in the Broadmoor neighborhood was up for renewal. The parcel fee is a $100 annual fee paid by residents over a 5 year period. The fee was first approved by residents in 2010 in an effort to support the Broadmoor neighborhood redevelopment plan. Today, the parcel fee supports improvement efforts by the BIA such as blight reduction, adult and child recreation, education, accessible healthcare, and equitable access to nutritious food.
Prior to the election, volunteers spent hours informing residents about the parcel fee and the social and quality of life services provided by the BIA that resulted in part due to the support of the parcel fee. Ultimately, a majority of residents voted for the renewal of the parcel fee for another five years.
Another exciting event was the Broadmoor Food Pantry Thanksgiving Assistance Distribution. Pantry clients and other families were given a box of produce valued at $25 donated by patrons of the Hollygrove Market and Farm and a $15 gift certificate to Rouses Supermarket. This year was the first time the event was presented to the clients as first come first serve. So needless to say, I sometimes found myself imagining the chaos that may ensue without some organized system. For the past several months I have been fundraising along with the Wellness Director of the BIA for the Thanksgiving Assistance distribution that took place on Monday, November 23rd, 2015 at the Broadmoor Food Pantry. Considering the fact that distribution day had a lot of moving parts, we developed a system that was not perfect but managed to make distribution day run with minimal conflict. Volunteer support from the BIA staff, community, Tulane University service-learning students played a crucial role in make distribution day a success. At the event, we served over 170 individuals.
As I mentioned earlier, this was an exciting and stressful month. So, it was pleasant to have a VISTA professional development day that focused on self-care for helping individuals. In fact, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. This month has really reinforced the importance of self-care and understanding one’s limits in my own life. It is important to help others as much as you possibly can but never forget about yourself. If you are not well mentally, physically, and emotionally then you will not be able to help other to the best of your abilities.