In post-Katrina New Orleans, Black men lift each other up

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By Mandi Woodruff, Yahoo Finance

On a Tuesday morning inside a dank, carpeted room at the New Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Patrick Carter is waiting patiently. At a quarter past 10 a.m., a handful of men and women trickle in, sliding back plastic chairs and taking seats at oblong tables that wouldn’t look out of place in a school cafeteria. These aren’t traditional students but, then again, this isn’t a traditional class. Carter, 35, is the group facilitator for NOLA Dads, a program offered by the Family Services of Greater New Orleans to reduce recidivism for ex-offenders on probation and parole. This is one of seven to eight classes Carter teaches weekly, each focused on topics like anger management, parenting, and education. For the lifelong New Orleanian, today’s topic hits especially close to home: finding a job.

NOLA Dad to be Featured with Celebrity Chef Show

NOLA DadsCelebrity Chef Jeff Henderson's upcoming cooking series on the Fox Network will feature a participant in Family Service’s NOLA Dads program.

NOLA Dads, a program highly acclaimed by civic leaders and participants, was recently featured in a local radio documentary. Click here to listen.

Click here to learn more about Chef Jeff’s story and New Orleans connection.

“Once a week, Lawrence takes a class on how to be a dad. It’s called NOLA Dads; … (Family Service of Greater) New Orleans is changing the community by addressing the problem of father absence.” - National Fatherhood Initiative Newsletter, May 1, 2014

Read more here.

Valero Meraux Refinery Gives $200,000 to Local Children's Charities

MERAUX, October 29, 2013– Local children’s charities received a total of $200,000 on October 29 from employees and business partners of the Valero Meraux Refinery, who helped raise the funds through sponsorship of the 2013 Valero Texas Open and Benefit for Children Golf Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

“It gives us great joy to be able to support the children of Southeast Louisiana once again,” said Lauren Bird, Vice President and General Manager of Valero Meraux Refinery. “These are gifts meant to inspire our community agencies to continue their good work, and improve the lives of the children they serve.”

Families need help in avoiding violence: Letter

The Times-Picayune, 8/12/13

Re: "Tale of Two Shootings," Opinions, July 31.
James Varney's column noted there had been no actu­al relationship between two recent shootings, although the city's prevailing culture of violence inevitably connected them. We are all affected by the murders.

"NOLA for Life," Mayor Landrieu's plan to stem the tide of fatalities, identifies five steps to be taken to change the patterns of individuals' behavior.

Step 1 is to stop the shoot­ing. Detroit and Flint, Mich., recently surpassed New Orleans as the most murder­ous U.S. city. New Orleans' murder rate is down from last year's toll. So, there may be some progress through the CeaseFire initiative.

Step 2 is prevention. NOLA for Life's "Flip the Script" campaign identifies prevention as a key to life support.

Young people need new personal scripts that enhance self-esteem and build their hopes for the future. This is where Family Service of Greater New Orleans and other social service agencies play a vital role in the success of the plan.

Program helps fathers stay involved with kids: Letter

The Times-Picayune, 3/1/13

Re: "Dreams of his father; Missing a dad doesn't amount to dissing a mom, " Opinions, Feb. 22. Jarvis DeBerry's column makes a salient point. Despite having an exceptionally strong and determined mother as well as a good deal of luck, President Barack Obama still believes an active and present father would have further supported development of his manhood.

As research by the National Fatherhood Initiative shows, a father living inside the home is one of the most critical factors involved in keeping young men in school and out of trouble with the law.

Expressions of caring after tragedy have healing powers

Times-Picayune 12/19/12

The horrific shootings that occurred in Newtown, Conn., this past Friday broke the hearts of the nation. Debates quickly sparked about gun control and inadequate mental health care. However, along with outrage came an outpouring of compassion and prayers for those directly affected by the massacre. In the wake of a tragedy, people often feel powerless. Yet the power we do have resides in our compassion and our kindness to others. This is how we help.

One did not have to directly experience this tragedy to empathize with the pain felt by the families and survivors. The feelings of shock, numbness, denial, anger and overwhelming sadness are common to loss on any scale. Support pours in immediately following the event. After Hurricane Katrina, cities across the nation opened up their doors to give refuge to those displaced. After losing a loved one, people come to your home. They bring food, they clean, they take care of you.

Help and humanity in the immediate aftermath of trauma has been shown to have long-lasting, positive effects and can reduce the likelihood of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. However, working in mental health care has shown me that there is no timetable for grieving or trauma, regardless of what diagnostic mental health care says. The intense pain may wane, but those feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness will continue to come and go. This is when we must remember our compassion. Those affected by this tragedy need our continued thoughts, our continued prayers and our continued support. They will need it in three months, in three years, in 30 years.

We held our loved ones close this weekend and said thanks for our blessings. We cannot forget to do this every day, tragedy or not. Kindness and altruism are the emotions shown to have the most positive effects on both our mental and physical health. For if there is no timetable on grief and pain, then there is no timetable on love.

Sara J. Gershen
Family Service of Greater
New Orleans

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New Orleans children are traumatized by violence

Times-Picayune, 12/9/12

Children in every U.S. city are adversely affected by exposure to violence, but New Orleans' children are disproportionately impacted. They live in one of the most violent U.S. cities; children of middle-school age also suffered through Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. They are predisposed to stress.

About half of the clients who receive mental health counseling from Family Service of Greater New Orleans are under 18 years of age. Public school social workers and teachers, as well as administrators of the juvenile justice system, refer children to us who have exhibited symptoms of stress or other challenging behavior. Our child and adolescent response teams, which provide crisis counseling and intervention to traumatized school children and their families, had to be reduced this past year due to significant cuts in state funding.

Children are not only exposed to violence on the streets. Many of the children who come to our agency experience domestic violence right in their own homes. Untreated, these kids start to model the violent behavior they witness and many, in time, become perpetrators of violence themselves.

We are hopeful that the mayor's efforts with the leadership of the city health commissioner, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, will improve the mental health safety net for adolescents through increased community-based mental health services, as well as short-term inpatient treatment, that is available to all in need.

Ronald P. McClain
President & CEO
Family Service of Greater New Orleans
New Orleans

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Planting Seeds

New Orleans Tribune, 11/12

Local non-profit and its leader, social worker Ron McClain,are dedicated career to helping youth, families in New Orleans.

On his office wall, Ron McClain has two framed images – a charcoal drawing of four faces of African-American boys and a black and white photograph of one boy with this quote:

"A seed in the rain grows in vain when there's no one to care and roots won't grow on concrete when dirt is nowhere to bear."

That statement is the creed McClain holds close to his heart. He has carried the artwork with him throughout every step of his career. They are daily reminders of the nurturing and support young people need to grow into solid citizens.

"I am committed to planting seeds and nurturing," McClain says. "I tell my counselors 'don't stop planting seeds."

McClain is president and chief executive officer of Family Service of Greater New Orleans, a 116-year-old nonprofit with the mission of strengthening the emotional health and fostering the self-sufficiency of local families. Family Service is one of only ten social service agencies in Louisiana that has achieved the highest standard of accreditation from the National Council on Accreditation.

"I can't imagine what our community would look like without Family Service – it is that critical to the safety net," said Keith Liederman, chief executive officer of Kingsley House.

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NOLA Dad’s Program

NPN Trumpet, 11/12/12

Twenty-four million kids – a third of all U.S. children – live apart from their biological fathers. In African-American communities, two out of every three live in homes with no dad.

The consequences of growing up without a father present go far beyond lack of a role model. Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor and poverty is statistically linked to almost every social ill. Recent studies have shown that children who grow up without a father at home are more likely to get involved with high- risk behavior and to experience educational, health and emotional problems throughout their lives.

In several New Orleans neighborhoods, the odds of growing up without a father at home are even greater. For example, in New Orleans East, Central City and the Ninth Ward, 70 percent or more children live in a house with a mother, grandparents or other relatives – but no father. Young men need training and education to change this multigenerational pattern of abandoning responsibility for their children.

In 1994, The National Fatherhood Initiative was founded to improve the wellbeing of all children by increasing the numbers of involved, responsible and committed fathers. In 2007, the New Orleans Fatherhood Consortium was formed to bring stakeholders together to address the needs of lowincome fathers. Fifteen non-profits were trained to use curricula developed by the Fatherhood Initiative.

Family Service of Greater New Orleans, a non-profit with the mission of strengthening the emotional health and fostering the self-sufficiency of local families, is launching the NOLA Dads Program to nurture young men in the development of fatherhood skills. Weekly sessions will help young men learn to become nurturing parents, obtain employment and become positive, contributing members of their families and communities.

Family Service to honor outstanding New Orleanians

The Advocate, 10/10/12

NEW ORLEANS — For the 39th year, Family Service of Greater New Orleans, an agency that works to strengthen the emotional health and self-sufficiency of families, has named 10 of the city's most outstanding individuals who gave of their time to support local, nonprofit causes during the past year.

Honorees, drawn from media, health care, finance, law, metals, energy and the arts, will be celebrated at the Family Service Outstanding Persons Awards Ceremony and Gala at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Pavilion of the Two Sisters in City Park.

"All of this year's individual recipient's along with one corporation are truly outstanding members of our community, and each has demonstrated extraordinary achievements which have enhanced the quality of life in the greater New Orleans Region," gala chairwoman Jackie Sullivan.

Gala tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (504) 827-4003.

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