Although Entergy New Orleans employees give back to the community in which they live and work all year long, they wanted to give back in a special way during National Volunteer Month by helping those in need.
That's why they returned to Ozanam Inn to serve lunch to homeless men, women and children right here in the Crescent City. Donning hairnets, aprons and gloves, they dished up 176 hot meals and since it was a Monday, the main course was – of course – red beans and rice!
"Helping to make someone's day a little brighter by volunteering is always rewarding, and especially when it's someone who is struggling with basic human needs like food, shelter and clothing," said Jessica Williams, executive assistant who organized the April volunteer event. "Serving lunch at Ozanam Inn is a humbling experience and everyone was glad we took the time to be there. This experience makes you more appreciative for what you have and will have you marking your calendar for the next time you can get back there to help."
Entergy New Orleans tradition of feeding the homeless began in 2015 when a group of Entergy New Orleans field employees got together to make a difference for the city's homeless population. Since then, the effort has spread to other Entergy New Orleans employees – field and office alike – who look forward to volunteering at the shelter. Besides donating their time, they also personally donate much-needed supplies where the agency will put it directly in the hands of those in need.
"Sometimes the public's perception of the homeless population is that they're unpleasant or ungrateful, but they're not," said Shanda Smith, volunteer coordinator at Ozanam Inn. "By taking the time to volunteer, people get to see firsthand how grateful they really are – especially for the little things – and how they give thanks before every meal. It's a great opportunity to give back and to make a real impact in someone's life."
In addition to providing three meals a day all 365 days a year, Ozanam Inn provides its clients a clean place to sleep; pro-bono legal, financial and health assistance; free basic necessities; and support when re-entering the working world. To learn more about the shelter, which is located in the heart of the Central Business District at 843 Camp St., visit ozanaminn.org.
Ozanam Inn Volunteer Coordinator Shanda Smith, center, stands with Entergy New Orleans volunteers after another successful lunch hour ends.