Rebuilding Together New Orleans becomes independent nonprofit

After 31 years as a program of the Preservation Resource Center, Rebuilding Together New Orleans has incorporated as an independent 501©3 nonprofit organization. Since it was founded by the PRC in 1988, Rebuilding Together New Orleans has provided free home repairs to more than 1,650 local including renovating hundreds of houses to bring families home after Hurricane Katrina.

As an independent nonprofit organization, Rebuilding Together New Orleans will continue its mission of “repairing homes, revitalizing communities (and) rebuilding lives.” It also will remain the local affiliate of the national Rebuilding Together organization.

When it was created by the Preservation Resource Center, the program originally was called Christmas in October New Orleans. Since then, Rebuilding Together New Orleans has grown into a vital resource for residents in need, providing crucial repairs that allow them to be safe and healthy in their homes. By organizing local volunteers to help with the repairs, the program also unites the community and fosters neighborhood revitalization.

The PRC also continues its neighborhood revitalization work through education and outreach programs, including classes for first-time homebuyers and first-time renovators, as well as workshops to help building owners navigate the Historic District Landmarks Commission process and tours of renovations in progress.

Rebuilding Together New Orleans and the PRC will continue to work hand in hand, supporting each other as separate nonprofits. “For many years, RTNO’s work has had an important impact to protect the culture of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods and those who live there, bringing dramatic change to neighborhoods like the Lower Garden District, Bayou St. John and Holy Cross,” said Jeanne Boughton, president of PRC’s Board of Directors. “We are so proud of the important work that RTNO does, and are committed to supporting the organization into its independence.”

“The leadership, staff and board of RTNO are dedicated to build upon our success towards a strong vision for the future. We can continue to be a strategic partner of PRC’s through our mission of improving the quality of life for New Orleans homeowners and their neighborhoods,” said Thom Smith, president of Rebuilding Together New Orleans’ Board of Directors.

RTNO will continue to have the backing of the national Rebuilding Together organization. “Rebuilding Together New Orleans is one of our most successful local affiliates, of which there are 130 nationally,” said Kevin Rafferty, chairman of the national Rebuilding Together organization’s Board of Directors. “We remain committed to supporting them as they incorporate as an independent nonprofit organization.”

 

Rebuilding Together has been a vital resource for homeowners in need in New Orleans for decades. Here’s a look at important milestones in the program’s history.

1988: The Preservation Resource Center founds the Christmas in October program in New Orleans with 350 volunteers working on one Saturday to help low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners maintain their properties. From the beginning, the program receives tremendous support from the community. Early sponsors included Exxon, the Young Leadership Council, Mobil Oil, Shell, Chevron, American Bank & Trust, NOPSI, IDS/AmericanExpress and South Central Bell.

October 1989: One year later, volunteer participation doubles. For the second Christmas in October, 700 volunteers work on 20 houses.

October 1990: 2,000 people donate their time to work on 29 homes.

March 1991: The Historic District Landmarks Commission bestows its Labouisse Award to the Preservation Resource Center for its outstanding work with Operation Comeback and Christmas in October.

December 1991: Christmas in October 1991 makes repairs to 41 homes.

August 1992: The American Society for Interior Designers bestows its Humanity Award to the Preservation Resource Center’s Christmas in October and Operation Comeback programs.

November 1999: Christmas in October continues to grow, with 4,000 volunteers providing free repairs to the houses of 70 elderly homeowners. The program receives more than $1 million in in-kind donations to make the work possible.

2003: PRC rebrands the program Rebuilding Together with Christmas In October.

October 2004: The original budget of Christmas in October was $24,000. By 2004, the annual budget for Rebuilding Together is $450,000. The program expands into a warehouse in the Faubourg Marigny to store building materials.

August 29, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana. 

August 2006: The New Orleans band Better Than Ezra hosts “The Ezra Open,” a golf tournament, concert and silent auction to help support Rebuilding Together New Orleans. The silent auction brings in triple the anticipated amount.

December 2006: Goldman Sachs donates $50,000 to Rebuilding Together New Orleans and helps to renovate the home of a retired housekeeper.

Oct. 14, 2007: At halftime during the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints, RTNO receives a check for $53,000 to rebuild the home of Aniece Gibbs in Hollygrove. The money was raised by the Neighborhood to Neighborhood Campaign between the cities of Seattle and New Orleans.

February 2008: NBA players, celebrities and fans complete renovations on nine homes in the Holy Cross neighborhood. This event was the catalyst of the Rebuilding Together and NBA Cares national partnership to provide critical home repairs each year with a Rebuilding Together affiliate.

October 2008: RTNO holds its largest volunteer event to date, with Starbucks Coffee Company hosting 4,000 employees working on 31 homes and one urban farm and planting more than 100 trees.

August 2010: RTNO hosts a week-long Fifty for Five event that rehabilitated 50 houses on the fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, mobilizing more than 1,000 volunteers, national corporations, local businesses, government officials, celebrities and the community.

2012: Since Hurricane Katrina, RTNO has mobilized more than 25,000 volunteers, rebuilt 1 million square feet and invested $20 million in New Orleans.

February 2013: The NFL’s Kickoff to Rebuild partners with RTNO to renovate 10 homes, clear blighted lots and build a new playground in the Algiers Riverview neighborhood.

September 2015: The New Orleans Saints honors RTNO’s disaster recovery work during its 10 Years Stronger Campaign at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

October 2015: Chelsea Clinton visits the 500th house to be restored by RTNO since Hurricane Katrina.

May 2016: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees teams up with RTNO to make improvements at a Boys and Girls Club that was devastated by flooding after Hurricane Katrina.

August 2016: Rebuilding Together New Orleans partners with Shell to help residents devastated by historic floods across Louisiana.

2017: RTNO staff members and volunteers traveled to Houston to work and train Rebuilding Together Houston after the flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

2018: RTNO hosts a Building a Healthy Neighborhood event in the St. Roch community, assisting 12 families and a community center in partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement.

December 2019: After 31 years as a program of the Preservation Resource Center, Rebuilding Together New Orleans incorporates as an independent 501©3 nonprofit organization.