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Recovery in Progress

A letter to those who've helped along the way.


Dear Friend of Youth Rebuilding New Orleans,

This weekend we commemorate the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We remember what New Orleans was; the lives lost, the homes flooded, and the communities and people uprooted. But we acknowledge the progress we've made, the neighborhoods reborn, and the residents who fought to return.

This anniversary is not, however, a celebration, a finish line, a summit reached. We as a city, as a people, have not yet realized our full potential. This anniversary is a reminder of how much work we still have in front of us. It’s an opportunity to look back at what has been done and how much and how many still need help.

Over the last 10 years we’ve grown from a grass roots effort to a full-fledged non-profit organization. We have helped hundreds of homeowners return and have hosted over 10,000 volunteers. YRNO started so that young people could help rebuild -- we’ve grown to give young people the opportunity to help shape the future New Orleans.

While we reflect on the anniversary Hurricane Katrina, it's not the storm I'd like to talk about. For the last ten years, Katrina has defined us. The truth is it's probably how most of us will measure the rest of our lives.

I know that not talking about “it” is an oversimplification of complex emotions that have, forgive my word choice, flooded back over the last few weeks. But it’s really not that I don’t want to talk about the storm itself or the ensuring levee failure; I’d just prefer to talk about something else.

Progress.

We've made great strides and shared great stories. We've laughed, we've cried, sometimes at the same time. We've hugged strangers. Our city has redefined itself as an incubator for education, startups, and innovation and I’m proud to have been a part of that rebirth. Much of that rebirth would have been impossible without the kindness and dedication of volunteers.

It’s the volunteers I’ve met, neighbors we’ve helped, and youth who’ve overcome so much I’d love to talk about. We told you we would rebuild, that we would come back, and that everything would get better. At some point along the way we even tricked ourselves into believing it too, but honestly, you made it so we could. On the backs of volunteers, of neighbors that have helped, and of youth who’ve overcome so much.

We owe a great debt to each and every person that has volunteered over the last 10 years; a debt that we can never truly repay. All we can do is say, Thank You.

With sincere gratitude,

The YRNO Team

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