“Village of Caring” Moves Hurricane Katrina Family

Nov 15, 2005

Carmen Melendez and her six children of New Orleans had been without a permanent home since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August. That changed today when the ad hoc "Village of Caring" composed of community organizations, a governmental agency, faith-based institutions and private entities moved the family into a six-bedroom town home in the Sursum Corda Cooperative of Northwest Washington off North Capitol Street.

“Village of Caring” Moves Hurricane Katrina Family into New Home in Rebounding Sursum Corda Cooperative in Northwest Washington

Washington, DC - Carmen Melendez and her six children of New Orleans had been without a permanent home since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August. That changed today when the ad hoc "Village of Caring" composed of community organizations, a governmental agency, faith-based institutions and private entities moved the family into a six-bedroom town home in the Sursum Corda Cooperative of Northwest Washington off North Capitol Street.

Participants in the "Village of Caring include the Greater Washington Urban League, Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Sursum Corda Cooperative, KSI Management Company, MGM Group, Bassett Furniture, Missions to America, Inc., Faith Outreach Community Church, and St. John’s Episcopal Church Lafayette Square. The "village" refurbished the town home, obtained furniture for the residence, is paying the family’s rent for three months, and is providing job placement assistance to the mother and educational enrichment opportunities for the children.

"I thank God for people like these helping us get back on our feet because we are new to the area and don’t know anyone,” said Melendez.

Of the efforts to assist the family, which have been coordinated by the Greater Washington Urban League, President and CEO Maudine R. Cooper said: "We are at this crucial point where Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are out of the headlines, but these are critical times for families and people hurt by the storms. Their funds for temporary housing and emergency assistance are running out. We know that organizations like ours will be getting more and more calls to help people in recovering and moving to economic self-sufficiency."

Said Russell Conlan, acting field director and chief counsel of the HUD Washington, D.C. Field Office, " We are proud of our role in assisting Carmen Melendez and her children in finding a place to call home in our nation’s capital. This effort in the District of Columbia could not have been possible without the support of the Sursum Corda Cooperative, its management company, the faith-based community and the Urban League."

Youth and Young Adult Pastor Marquez Ball has coordinated assistance from Mount Carmel Baptist Church, which is located in the community near Sursum Corda. "Prior to the Melendez family arriving in the District, we began accepting donations from church members to aid families affected by Hurricane Katrina. God has given us the ability to help people and we have. If everyone were to do this, then the world would be a different place."

Ms. Melendez had only lived in New Orleans for about 10 months before the hurricane, having moved from New York. Fleeing the city, she ended up in Texas before the family was sent to Wisconsin and then arrived in Washington, D.C. She has worked as a home health care assistant. Her children range in age from 6 to 17.

Melendez Family Moving-in Day and Press Conference

Participating Organizations, Services they are providing, and Representatives

GREATER WASHINGTON URBAN LEAGUE, Maudine R. Cooper
Coordinating the move, providing gift cards from League auxiliaries Thursday Network and Urban Roundtable, educational enrichment for children, job assistance and convened the Katrina Open Arms Coalition
MOUNT CARMEL BAPTIST CHURCH, Rev. Joseph Evans, PhD, Minister Marquez Ball
Half of first three months’ rent for the town home, spiritual counseling, took the family shopping and recruited grooming services from Classic Cuts and Charneta Dixon
WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, J. David Reeves, Russell Conlan and Belinda Fadlelmola
Coordinated with faith-based and non-profit organizations to obtain rent subsidy for six months
SURSUM CORDA COOPERATIVE, Lorraine Tyler, David Chestnut
Cooperative voted to allow special accommodation for the family to move into the development, made the town home available for use and has been servicing it
KSI MANAGEMENT COMPANY, Carlyle Swofford, Willa Lawal
Refurbished unit with new paint and carpet, landscaping patio
MGM GROUP, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Charles Mann, Charles Williams and Keith Temple; BASSETT FURNITURE OF WASHINGTON METRO AREA; AND MISSIONS TO AMERICA, INC., David Lewis
Provided new kitchen/dining and living room furniture and two bunk bedroom sets
FAITH OUTREACH COMMUNITY CHURCH, Pastor Lloyd Garrett and Chris and Ron McGill
Stocking the pantry and refrigerator with food, clothing, linen and shopping gift certificate
ST. JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH LAFAYETTE SQUARE, Rev. Hannah Atkins
Providing second half of the first three months’ rent for the town home
THE HONORABLE DAVID CATANIA, D.C. Council, Councilmember At-Large
Provided monetary contribution