The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
New Orleans Women’s Shelter
Feb. 20, 2009
Transitional housing shelter for homeless women and mothers with young children which began in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Community Contact Information:
Congregation Gates of Prayer
The New Orleans Women’s Shelter is a grassroots volunteer operation that began in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to provide transitional housing for homeless women and mothers with young children. In June 2007, the synagogue became the shelter’s fiscal sponsor. The congregation’s efforts are motivated by two Jewish values: ending the intergenerational cycle of poverty and helping women gain self-sufficiency.
Katrina exposed to the nation that poverty has always been an intractable part of New Orleans' community. The women and children the shelter serves are no strangers to the cruel results of limited opportunity and poor choices. Compounding their struggle is the unique condition of post-Katrina New Orleans, in which housing prices have skyrocketed, FEMA benefits have been depleted, the number of living wage job opportunities have decreased and incidence of domestic violence and alcohol/drug abuse have increased. All of this has occurred against the backdrop of a severely curtailed medical and social-service infrastructure to provide needed assistance.
Congregants formed the New Orleans Women's Shelter LLC as an interim vehicle, while the congregation agreed to become the fiscal sponsor until the shelter could obtain 501(c)3 status. The Tikkun Olam Committee agreed to coordinate congregational volunteer assistance to the shelter. A Tikkun Olam column in the monthly bulletin communicated needs to the Congregation.
The womens’ shelter is one of the few resources which seek to change the trajectory of the clients' lives. With assistance in creating a realistic plan for independence and stable living as well as provision of education and support to help chart a new course for themselves and their children, over 80 women have moved on to homes of their own, employment in a living wage job and gained a new sense of self respect. The project has provided members of the congregation, located in a suburb, with an awareness of the needs of people in the inner city . Furthermore, the relationship with the shelter has been an avenue for congregants to pursue the mission of tikkun olam: perfecting God's world through the pursuit of justice, and improved understanding between our neighbors and ourselves.
This program received a Fain Award in 2009.
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