Every Thursday, you can find New Orleanian Gail Rouen at Terraces on Tulane, our Mid-City housing facility for seniors. Rouen began volunteering earlier this year. “I hit it off with everyone,” she says enthusiastically. “Their stories melt my heart I love listening to them and hearing about their backgrounds.”
Rouen’s interest in volunteering was piqued at a Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans breakfast, which she attended with a group from her husband’s company. Soon, she was volunteering at the Terraces, which serves lower-income persons 62 and over. Her assignment: be a friendly helper, doing whatever residents need, be it light housekeeping or sharing a meal. She quickly discovered she and the residents enjoyed their time together.
The staff then asked if she would take on a special project, working with resident Ronald, known for creating art from everyday objects. His apartment was overfilled with his late mother’s belongings and other items. Rouen began helping him sort out what to keep.
“We have a wonderful relationship,” she says. “We trust each other and have wonderful conversations.” All the while, Ronald’s apartment is being cleared and organized, with Rouen taking things he no longer needs to charity.
“Gail is God-sent,” Ronald exclaims. “She was sent to me right on time.” Ronald, who has lived at the Terraces for five years, remembers how depressed he was over his mother’s death. “I know how to clean and organize, I just couldn’t do it. Gail helped me see things better. She’s become a good friend and is highly intelligent. I don’t have to Google, I just ask Gail.”
Rouen encourages others to volunteer. “The rewards are so great. You feel like you’re doing something worthwhile. You can work out a plan to give however much time you have.”
Tenants get to start moving into The Groves at Mile Branch Creek this weekend in Covington, Louisiana’s West 30s neighborhood. The Groves provide 94 mixed-income rental apartments. 66 of the apartments are for occupants with low-incomes, adjusted for each tenant’s income level; while 28 of the apartments are being leased according to current market rates. Victor Smeltz, Executive Director of Volunteer’s of America’s Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation explains that The Groves is making housing affordable for a range of different people including those with very low incomes as well as those with middle incomes who might otherwise have to commute to Covington due to a shortage of housing options. 72QDP3XXNJD2
The Groves was carefully designed to emulate the architecture of old Covington and painted in a range of bright colors. The apartments come with porches, balconies, washers and dryers, and granite counter tops as well as other amenities. The Groves also includes computer rooms, a community center,a community park, and counseling services for those in need.
The Groves continues to lead the way towards the revitalization of Covington’s West 30s neighborhood with 35 single-family homes currently under construction to be ready for tenants in the next year or so. To learn more about The Groves visit the Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation’s website: www.rndcnola.org. More on the move-in can be found in the Times-Picayune article featured on NOLA.com.