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Archive for February, 2010

Exciting – life-changing – things are happening at Volunteers of America this winter and while we look forward to spring right around the corner, for some in New Orleans, a spring of new beginnings is already occurring.

While Volunteers of America has been working in New Orleans since the late 1800’s, in the weeks and months following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, many of our direct support staff provided 24-hour assistance to the people with significant disabilities they served, often living with them under difficult circumstances, helping them rebuild their lives in the city of New Orleans. And for those that lost their homes, we are also committed to creating 1,000 units of affordable housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans and last month, the first residents of Terraces on Tulane, an affordable senior housing community we rebuilt, were able to move back home.

True to our Aging with Options™ initiate of allowing all seniors to remain independent when they age, we rebuilt Terraces on Tulane with the needs of all seniors in mind and clinic space was added to serve as a community space for all seniors in the Tulane area. Learn more about this exciting rebuilding and homecoming.

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Almost five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Volunteers of America opened its first new affordable senior housing community in the region since the storm and is welcoming back residents displaced by the hurricane. The official grand opening is scheduled for Friday, March 26, 2010.

An artist's rendering of Terraces on Tulane

In late January 2010, the first residents moved into The Terraces on Tulane, a new 200-unit affordable housing community for seniors located New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. For many of these people, moving in to their new apartments was a joyous homecoming and a chance to reconnect with old neighbors and friends.

Located at 3615 Tulane Avenue, the community replaces Forest Towers East, a former Volunteers of America community badly damaged by Katrina. The Terraces on Tulane includes a computer lab and other amenities for residents such as health and medical services and planned social, educational and recreational activities. More than 60 former residents of Forest Towers East will be returning to live in The Terraces on Tulane.

Alice Blue

One of those residents is 74-year old Alice Blue, who says returning to New Orleans is a grand homecoming. “Katrina was something unlike anything I’d ever experienced before,” she explains. “I didn’t evacuate right away, I didn’t think it was necessary to leave. I sat and waited and then went to bed. I wasn’t frightened, I just prayed. They [evacuation teams] took us to the convention center, then to Austin. Then I went to California where my brother lives.”

Louise Breaux

Louise Breaux, age 80, has lived her entire life in New Orleans except for her recent displacement by Katrina. When the storm hit, she refused to leave. Thinking that, at her age, she had seen the worst that life could offer, she simply did not believe that a disaster of such magnitude could hit.

Ms. Breaux recalls that initially it was a beautiful day, but that soon changed as the storm rolled in. She remembers seeing the telephone poles lifted up out of the ground and then the wind blew the air conditioning unit out of the window. When she saw that a helicopter was coming to rescue her, she ran to get on it. Ms. Breaux was evacuated to Austin and then went on to Houston, always waiting to return to New Orleans.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Volunteers of America committed to create more than 1,000 units of affordable rental housing in New Orleans. In partnership with the Major League Baseball Players Trust and other major donors, Volunteers of America also established the Rental Housing Development Fund, which will be used to develop affordable rental housing in the Gulf Coast region.

Late last year, the Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation – a collaboration between Volunteers of America National Services and Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans – started construction on the Chateau Carre Apartments in Gentilly, a rehabilitated, mixed-income housing development with 150 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The project is being funded in part by a generous block grant from the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development.

In 2007, Volunteers of America also reopened The Duvernay Residence on Canal Street, which provides 70 single-room occupancy units to people transitioning from life on the streets to permanent housing.

Founded in 1896, Volunteers of America is one of the leading human service providers in the United States and the largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing in the country. Nationally, Volunteers of America provides housing for more than 11,000 families and 8,000 senior households, and is committed to increasing the supply of permanent affordable rental housing for working families in Greater New Orleans.

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Volunteers of America, PACE Vermont Inc. and On Lok have formed a partnership to operate PACE programs in Vermont. This groundbreaking partnership, effective January 29, 2010, provides a wealth of resources and expertise that will allow PACE programs in the state to grow and thrive into the future. This support will be provided directly to the current PACE Vermont organization.

The health care and other services now provided to participants will not change as a result of this new partnership, nor will the organization which provides them. The cost of the program and the means by which participants pay for services also will remain the same.

PACE Vermont opened its first PACE site in 2007 in Colchester, and added a second site in 2008 in Rutland. PACE Vermont currently serves seniors living in Rutland and Chittenden counties, and has been growing steadily.

“We’re very excited about this groundbreaking partnership,” said Rosemarie Rae, Volunteers of America’s Executive Vice President of Strategy who oversees the organization’s “Aging with Options” initiative. “Our goal is to help seniors all over the country receive care at home and in their own communities, and PACE is one program that makes that option possible.”

“We are delighted to offer our 30 years of PACE experience to help the PACE program in Vermont be even more successful in the future,” said Bob Edmondson, CEO of On Lok.

The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) model is centered on the belief that seniors with chronic care needs should be served in their home communities whenever possible. PACE serves people age 55 or older who are certified by their state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area. If a PACE enrollee subsequently needs nursing home care, the PACE program pays for it and continues to coordinate the enrollee’s care.

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