The All-Souls Community Center is a home away from home for hundreds of at-risk local children, one one of hundreds of community partners we help out across South Louisiana.
Director Happy Johnson says the Center’s mission is to provide a sanctuary in a neighborhood still struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which washed away thousands of homes here more than 10 years ago.
“Since the storm, we’ve been active in the Lower 9th Ward to provide these families and children a safe place to come get a hot meal, food to take home, and other assistance on a daily basis.”
The Community Center is nestled inside the All-Souls Episcopal Church. Johnson talked with us about the direct support his Center gets from Second Harvest.
“We’ve had a great, long-standing relationship with Second harvest more than six years. They’ve been wonderful, providing hot breakfasts to children in our summer camp, and then dinner during the year for our after-school programs. And they provide so much more than food, teaching nutrition education with Cooking Matters to our local residents.”
Second Harvest also recently hosted a weekend health fair at the All Souls Center, distributing healthy produce and offering medical screenings.
All the meals and services are provided to All Souls at no cost. Johnson said it would be an incredible burden for his center to try to provide this many meals year-round.
“The support we receive from Second Harvest is hard to even quantify. It adds a level of quality that’s really important for the kids and families that we serve. Without it, we just would not be able to do nearly as much at the level it needs to be at.
Johnson has been working to improve the lives of Lower 9th residents for many years.
“The Lower 9th Ward is in transition, and has always been a place rich with culture and history. We’re just doing our part to create tomorrow’s leaders to come from this neighborhood. One grandmother told us, ‘You’re saving lives with what you’re doing here.’ That’s not something we normally say, but it does underscore the work we do and why we do it.”