Community Impact

Nonprofits touch our lives every day, and the Community Impact series highlights their critical work and the difference they are making.

Each week, New Orleans-based producer Eve Abrams brings you the stories of diverse groups working across southeast Louisiana. You’ll hear directly from leaders and staff on the frontline of important issues, from dedicated volunteers and from the people whose lives have been improved by these nonprofits.

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Kate Gegenheimer

The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans serves as a platform and voice for issues concerning culture in New Orleans.

Eve Abrams

The Black Alliance for Educational Options is a national organization, but in order to fulfill their mission — empowering low income and working-class Black families to increase high quality educational options for all black students — BAEO knows to work locally.

NOYSE

Matthew Shilling teaches creative and at-risk youth about sound engineering and music production at the New Orleans Youth Sound Experience.

Matthew Shilling gathers his students around a sound board talking about volume and distortion.

“So tell me again what does a fader do?” he asks.  

“It takes away sound,” a student calls out.

“It fades the sound,” offers another.

“We’re not taking away sound, right?” asks Shilling. “We’re dealing with electricity still, right?”

“We’re taking away electricity,” a student guesses.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities advocates for people in need, no matter who they are.

Inside the New Directions Adult Day Health Care Center, groups of people gather around tables at. It’s Bingo time. And Willie is working two boards.

“I’m helping her,” Willie explains.

“Do you always help your neighbors play bingo?” I ask.

“Yes ma’am.”

“How come?”

“Because they don’t know,” answers Willie. “Because they don’t know,” he repeats. “They don’t know, Sweetie.”

EveAbrams / WWNO

Dillard University's Office of Community Relations is helping people in Gentilly stay healthy. Eve Abrams explores the university's efforts to combat obesity, poor nutrition, and bad eating habits throughout the neighborhood.

Chrisean Mitchell shows me around the community garden in back of her Gentilly school.

Katy Reckdahl

Laniker Hunter-Davis is an outreach worker for UNITY of Greater New Orleans. She and her partner, Joycelyn Scott, drive and walk around the city trying to reach the hardest-to-reach homeless people. One night, I tagged along.  

“The first place that we’ll be stopping is at Washington Park. It’s off of Elysian Fields. We have a lady  that’s in that park with her dog, and she can’t utilize the shelters because of her dog. So we gonna go check on her.

Kate Howe

It’s lunchtime at the Renew Cultural Arts Academy, and that means a group of medical students from Louisiana State University are sitting down with kindergarden, first and second graders to talk about the food that’s on their plates.

“So what do you use your protein for?”

“Makes you strong!” 

“Makes you strong. Got to have big muscles, huh? Can you show me your muscle? All right, there you go.”

About a dozen medical students are equipped with colored building blocks: red for protein, green for carbohydrates, and yellow for fat.

Chartwell Center

Just a few blocks from the intersection of Napolean and Magazine Streets is an unassuming yellow shotgun house. From the street there is no way to know this is a school — a very special school.

Inside and down the hall is the elementary school of the Chartwell Center, a nonprofit dedicated to serving children with autism spectrum disorders. In one of the two classrooms, Hayden and Matt — ages 8 and 9 — go over a recipe for a drink called Sunset Juice with their two teachers.

Ellen Katz is a Managing Attorney at the Advocacy Center, a non profit which helps protect the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities — people from all over Louisiana. Other staff members at the Advocacy Center make home visits, but much of Ellen’s work is conducted over the phone. 

“Hi Miss Fisher, how are you today?” Ellen asks a new client.

In the wide-ranging effort to reform the New Orleans criminal justice system, this new nonprofit works for more equal access to expungements of criminal records to help people get jobs and move on after release.

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