Saving Homes – Healing Hearts

Catherine puts finishing touches on patio

Ithaca social worker, Catherine Martinez, founded LKNB in the summer of 2006 as a response to Hurricane Katrina. We delivered material & aid to New Orleans that December. We wanted to show low-income areas of New Orleans that we had not forgotten them.

We were particularly drawn to the situation in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. We met Pastor Bruce Davenport of St. John #5 Faith Church, a small church and social service center in the 7th Ward. Pastor Bruce showed LKNB volunteers the heartbreaking ruins of his community. He taught us about the legacy of economic disadvantage and institutional neglect.

He inspired us with his vision of a 7th Ward that could come back even stronger than it was before Katrina. In Pastor Bruce we found a partner. We have been helping St. John #5 Faith Church transform their community one house at a time. From that vision, a Sister City relationship was born between Ithaca New York and the 7th Ward of New Orleans Louisiana. 

Pastor Bruce Davenport of St. John #5 Faith Church

We have developed into a ‘second wave relief agency’. We field teams of volunteers which are led by skilled carpenters and construction specialists. Because we are small, we can get van loads of volunteers into a disaster impacted community quickly.

Since December 2006, we have continued working in New Orleans. In 2011 we fielded teams of carpenters & volunteers in Owego, New York after 80% of the town was flooded by Tropical Storm Lee.

In 2012, our volunteer teams from several schools helped residents of Brooklyn & Staten Island dig out from flooding after Hurricane Sandy.  We also lent a hand in the recovery process in Rockaway and delivered a truckload of donated holiday gifts to middle and high school students in the area.

In 2014, we began working with Sonja Ayiti in Limonade, Haiti. We are helping them address the needs of internally displaced Haitians after the devastation of the 2010 earthquakes. In Haiti, we learned of the principal of koudakoud or standing shoulder to shoulder.

Bringing this principal of standing shoulder to shoulder, in 2015 we launched the Neighbor to Neighbor Initiative to address the issue of substandard housing right here in Tompkins County.

Throughout it all, one of the best parts is the impact we have on the lives of the volunteers. Through service to others, our volunteers learn something valuable about themselves.  They learn that, no matter who they are or what their skill level, they can contribute to something good in the world, and that is life-changing.