What can we do at a time like this, when we're experiencing a world out of balance— personally, politically, economically, and environmentally? The unexpected storms of life and complex challenges of our time can make us feel helpless and hopeless, yet the creative work of New Orleans Habitat for Humanity has shown me that together we can make a difference.
In 2005, I was heartbroken when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. I'd spent many happy summers there visiting my cousins when I was growing up. With its warm welcoming people, gumbo, jazz, and rich cultural history, New Orleans was for me a magical place, a city like no other. Now my beautiful city was flooded, people had died, my relatives had evacuated to Kentucky, and many more people were left homeless. Feeling betrayed by our government, I was angry at them for not doing enough to help.
But my anger wasn't helping. I knew I needed to do something. But what could I do? Out where I live in California, I felt helpless and hopeless—until I realized what I could do: I'm a writer. So I featured young New Orleans artist Karel Sloane in my new book, Your Personal Renaissance, then began donating from my book royalties to Habitat New Orleans. In my writing, I began a creative partnership with the city I love. This way, I felt personally connected, my own work a small part of the solution.
I've watched through the years, as Habitat New Orleans has built houses, hope, and community, even creating the Habitat Musicians' Village to support the city's rich musical tradition. I love how their work combines the energies of new homeowners, neighbors, and volunteers to build houses, hope, and a better future together.
So if you're feeling overwhelmed by our collective problems, remember this lesson from New Orleans Habitat: that together we can make a positive difference, together we can build hope. If you'd like to connect with New Orleans Habitat to build a new house with hope, please join me in making a donation of any amount to begin building greater hope together by clicking on this link