Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, recently wrote a great article on the White House Blog about witnessing firsthand the bottom-up strength of one of the many innovative community organizations that have stepped up to help the Gulf Coast recover following Katrina.
Located in the distressed Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, Café Reconcile (http://www.cafereconcile.org) helps at-risk young people aged 16-22 with life skills, while training them for jobs in the restaurant business, one of the largest employers in New Orleans. Reconcile’s students are poor, many are high school dropouts, come from broken homes, are victims of abuse, or are veterans of the juvenile justice system. Café Reconcile provides case management, academic training, and on-the-job experience at a working restaurant that is popular for its staples like baked chicken, fried catfish (with or without crawfish sauce), and jambalaya.
On Thursday I sat down with staff and participants to enjoy a late lunch. We were joined by Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and Tulane University President Scott Cowen.
“There are no bad kids on the streets of New Orleans,” Reconcile’s Director of Programs, Donna Bowie told us. “They may not have had the nurturing and support that you and I had, but that's what we provide at Café Reconcile."
One by one, the young program participants and alumni shared their stories, stories of heartbreaking challenges like teenage pregnancies and run ins with the law, but also stories of redemption, of the difference it makes to have caring adults, supportive peers and a job to do.
Continue reading this article at the White House Blog