NEW ORLEANS - Fred Franke is the Director for Operation Nehemiah and the Furniture Bank, and he is very happy with his new Louisa Street warehouse that stores the supplies needed by both agencies.
"We were so concerned about where we were going to store all of our things for the Furniture Bank, and all of our tools and rebuild items," said Franke.
"Instantly we got a lot of calls," he said. "We got some calls for some help. We had a businessman step forward to help with some of the rent, and that was a big, big help. We had a lot of folks call though that needed additional help for their homes."
"We've helped about 27,000 families, from small to large, in every kind of capacity," said Franke. "Early on getting emergency food and living supplies to total rebuilds. We've rebuilt 38 homes. we gutted out a little bit more than 3,500 homes."
"When I came back home, we couldn't stay here, because the rain had done messed the house up so bad, we couldn't stay," explained New Orleans resident Mary Scales. "We had to get help."
"They worked and worked until they got the house back together, so we could get back in," she said."The funding somewhat has dried up or has gone elsewhere," Franke pointed out. "A lot of the volunteers that came down early on, they brought a lot of funds, and that money went out into the community very rapidly."
One of the things they've noticed is that there have been so many other disasters in different parts of the country draining funds that used to come here. So financial donations are the biggest need that Operation Nehemiah and the Furniture Bank have, because their waiting list is so long with people trying to get back into their homes.
"On the database for rebuilds, we have a little bit more than 400 families, and we have no funds to rebuild them, and they have no funds to rebuild them," worried Franke. To help Operation Nehemiah aid families rebuilding, please call 782-3337. The Furniture Bank is open on Saturdays and half days on Fridays at 3915 Louisa Street.
Operation Nehemiah restored one half of Mary Scales' shotgun double home so she could move back in, and now volunteers like Leo Soniat are finishing up the other half. Mary is still amazed at their generosity.
The Furniture Bank helped 460 families who needed household items last year. Operation Nehemiah has hosted volunteers since Katrina who came to New Orleans to help residents rebuild.
Franke started the new year in an Action Report about the need for a new base for the two agencies.