BRANCH OF THE VINCENTIAN FAMILY INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT: CM, PBVM
NAME OF SYSTEMIC CHANGE PROJECT: Rebuild Center At St. Joseph’s Church
PROJECT ADDRESS: 1802 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA
CONTACT PERSON: Sr. Vera Butler, PBVM or Don Thompson
LENGTH OF TIME THE PROJECT/PROGRAM HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE: 30 years
PROJECT WEBSITE: http://www.stjosephchurch-no.org/rebuild.htm
The Rebuild Center is a collaborative ministry of the Congregation of the Mission, the Society of Jesus, the Presentation Sisters and the Catholic Charities’ Hispanic Ministry, serving the homeless and unemployed.
It began over thirty years ago as a simple direct service program of sandwiches to those in need at St. Joseph Church. Since 1997, when Sr. Vera Butler, a Presentation Sister, joined Fr. Perry Henry’s staff, she began to expand the program to offer shelter vouchers, toiletries and groceries.
After Katrina, the program developed into the collaborative ministry mentioned above in buildings added to the St. Joseph Church location. The Harry Tompson Center, directed by Don Thompson for the Jesuits, located there to offer such services as showers, laundry, phone service and a medical clinic, supported by an Episcopalian church, Daughters of Charity and volunteer doctors and nurses. Presentation Sisters offer meals five days a week, help with I.D., and handle incoming mail for the homeless. They do TB testing and offer prescription assistance either directly or by collaborating with the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy. They also offer financial assistance and emergency groceries for people who live in the neighborhood and Green cards (these are worked on by Justine – CC for Hispanic Ministry.
The Tulane-Canal Neighborhood development Corporation functions under the umbrella of the
Rebuild Center with a separate 501c3 identity. Sr. Mary Louise, D.C. and Fr. Donald Ours, C.M. serve on the board. They purchase blighted property, build homes and train homebuyers in the area to buy and finance homes.
The Homeless Court, developed by Judge Zainey in 2010, offers lawyers and help in handling cases in court that do not involve other persons and are non-violent, e.g. public drunkenness.
All of these programs are meant to assist persons in poverty, to grow in human dignity, to move out on their own and become productive citizens, promoting systemic change.