“Welcome back to the Hollygrove neighborhood, ” a Habitat for Humanity staffer said as she greeted a second wave of AARP members arriving ready to paint houses here this afternoon. “AARP has a lot of history helping out in this neighborhood, and we’re glad to see you again.”
It’s true. After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, we realized we had a lot of members – more than 1,000 – living in this working class neighborhood of New Orleans. We asked residents how AARP could help and, eventually, worked with several other organizations helping build up the Hollygrove neighborhood. Our work was recognized as a national model for community organization. And then AARP Ambassador James Brown (“JB”) stopped by…
Volunteers attending the annual Life@50+ event in New Orleans came out to Hollygrove to help Habitat for Humanity continue fixing up the neighborhood. “This program is called ‘A Brush with Kindness,'” explained the Habitat staffer. Instead of building new homes, AARP members would be painting stairs, cleaning up sidewalks, and making the neighborhood more livable.
With many AARP members spread out among three houses, work went quickly and teamwork prevailed. “I’m working on the blue house. You?” “I’ll work on the pink house.” “I’ll caulk. You scrape.” Done.