In a place where residents say there are few signs of recovery, the Lower 9th Ward Village has been considered a bright spot. The threat of foreclosure is now circling the community center and non-profit. Its founder is looking for help.
"I never had a staff, I never got any grants to do this. This has basically been on my buck and volunteers that believed in it," said Ward "Mack" McClendon.
McClendon founded the Lower 9th Ward Village in 2007. He envisioned it to be a resource and a voice for the neighborhood as it tried to rebound from Hurricane Katrina. With no hospitals, grocery stores or retail shops in the Lower 9th Ward, McClendon said the community center provided an outlet for area residents.
"Without a voice in the community, what you have is a free fall. People come and exploit it, take what they want from it and they leave," said McClendon.
His enthusiasm was contagious. Celebrity help contributed to the opening of a skate park, but donations have dried up. The skate park has closed and without $75,000, the Lower 9th Ward Village will soon be in foreclosure. For the past five years, the village has basically functioned as the Lower 9th Ward's lone community center. It's where neighbors come to get job training, kids came for after school programs and more than 50-thousand people have passed through there to help rebuild the 9th Ward. Neighbors say if the village is forced to shut down it'll be a loss for a place that's already lost too much.
"I think it's a going to be a disaster, if they take it away, I really do because the kids need that in the community," said Samuel Roberts.
"Here, the children don't have anywhere to go, that's why so many get into so much trouble," said Josephine Duchane.
"I hate to even think about it, right now I'm still holding out hope," said Mack McClendon.
To help raise the money needed to save the Lower 9th Ward Village a benefit concert will be held May 23 from 6 pm to 11 pm at the Howlin' Wolf. For more information contact Whitney Jones at 504-564-5303 or visit the center's website at Lower9thWardVillage.org.