Pamela Marquis, Morgan, Johnny W. | 3/6/2009 9:02:03 PM
News Release Distributed 03/06/09
NEW ORLEANS – The Metropolitan Human Services District has approved a $26,000 grant to the Orleans Parish 4-H Foundation to help pay various expenses of low-income 4-H members in the parish.
Lan Hoang, president of the foundation and the only member who has returned since Hurricane Katrina, said the organization is slowly coming back to life after nearly four years of inactivity.
“Since the storm we have not had an active foundation,” Hoang said, “But now that we have this grant, we can really begin the task of helping our local 4-H Clubs.”
Pamela Marquis, LSU AgCenter 4-H youth development agent, said MHSD is a regional organization that provides mental health and support services in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.
“The foundation found the grant with hopes of helping to defray the costs of taking low-income youth in Orleans Parish to LSU AgCenter 4-H statewide events, which include 4-H University, 4-H summer camp, Louisiana Outdoor Science and Technology Camp, Challenge Camp, Junior Leader trips and Food and Fitness Camp,” Marquis said.
These events enhance the work done throughout the year by the Orleans Parish 4-H after-school program, she said.
The events also serve as rewards for the youths’ hard work and help to keep them engaged in 4-H throughout the year, she added.
The funds will pay for transportation, fees, T-shirts, souvenir stipends, food and photos, she said.
Marquis said the children who will benefit are those who receive free or reduced-price lunch in school.
After Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans nearly four years ago, the 4-H program there was left in shambles.
Hoang said this grant will take pressure off of the parents who want their child involved but just don’t have the funds.
Marquis said rebuilding the 4-H program in the parish has been challenging, with the No. 1 obstacle being just the ability to find venues for 4-H programming.
“Many of the Louisiana 4-H programs do well with a model of working through the schools,” she said. “Just the sheer number of schools in Orleans Parish and the number of school systems we need to work with makes it more challenging to use that model. Also challenging is the fact that many of the venues we used pre-Katrina for programming are still damaged.”
Another hurdle for the Orleans Parish 4-H staff is making people aware of the program.
Marquis said a major awareness campaign is in the planning stages and should be rolled out later in the spring.
She said the campaign will let youth know they don’t have to live in the rural areas to enjoy what 4-H has to offer.
“It’s true, we don’t have some of the traditional programs like the rural areas,” Marquis said. “But some of our groups are doing photography, cooking, service-learning projects, and some members do have small-animal projects like hamsters and rabbits.”