Rebuild Center to celebrate 10 years of serving poor

By Clarion Herald Staff

The Rebuild Center, a day shelter that provides an array of services to the homeless and underserved in the heart of New Orleans’ downtown medical district, will mark its 10th anniversary Sept. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the center’s headquarters on the grounds of St. Joseph Church on Tulane Avenue.

The celebration will offer both first-time visitors and veteran volunteers opportunities to view the facility and to hear from those who have benefited from its services during a program of songs and testimonials. A reception with cake and punch will follow.

Located at 1803 Gravier St., the Rebuild Center is a collaborative of four separate Catholic entities: Lantern Light Ministry, St. Joseph Church, the Father Harry Tompson Center and DePaul USA.

The center’s story began in 2006, when St. Joseph’s Church offered use of its property to build a new facility to provide services to the homeless in a day shelter setting. Lantern Light Ministry had already been providing food and other services to the homeless and hungry since 2005 from a small trailer parked behind the church.

Meanwhile, the Father Harry Tompson Center, previously located next to the Immaculate Conception Church on Baronne Street, also was seeking a new location for its day shelter. The three entities – the Vincentians of St. Joseph, the Jesuits of Immaculate Conception Parish and the Presentation Sisters of Lantern Light Ministry – joined forces to raise $1.1 million to open the Rebuild Center with expanded offerings including mail and phone services for guests, medical exams, a daily lunch and shower facilities.

Architecture students from the University of Detroit Mercy worked with local architect Wayne Troyer to design a beautiful, nurturing and serene “indoor-outdoor” environment that went on to garner numerous design awards. The center opened in September 2007. DePaul USA, a Vincentian ministry, joined the Rebuild Center team in 2012.

Over years thousands have received life-saving services through the efforts of staff and volunteers. Although each organization specializes in different services, together they are able to meet most of the basic and emergency needs of homeless guests, in addition to meeting longer-range needs such as housing placement and mental health care. An average of 200 guests receive services daily.

For more information, contact Kenitha Grooms-Williams at (504) 912-2157 or kagwilliams@lanternlight.org.

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