Back in October 2007, the Seattle Seahawks, News Talk 710 KIRO and Rebuilding Together, a non-profit organization in New Orleans, set a goal to help one family move back into their home in New Orleans. Aniece Gibbs, 88, lost her home of 50 years in Hurricane Katrina.
Click here for more details regarding the New Orleans Rebuilding Project.
Through the generosity of Seahawks fans and the listeners of News Talk 710 KIRO over $85,000 was raised to rebuild Ms. Gibbs home, furnish it with appliances, and provide much needed funding for other rebuilding projects in New Orleans.
Jonathan Skvarka, Information and Research Officer for Rebuilding Together New Orleans provides a first hand journal account as Ms. Gibbs house is fully restored to conditions pre-Hurricane Katrina.
Ms. Aniece Gibbs moved back into her home at 9034 Fig Street on Wednesday, March 26, 2008. It had been 940 days or two and a half years since the effects of Hurricane Katrina severely damaged her home. For most of that time, she lived in a FEMA trailer on her side lawn. On her first night back home, she fell asleep encased by familiar four walls; a routine event for most, but an meaningful one for her.
I went to visit her the next day with a group of undergraduate photographers from Minnesota who came to document the work of Rebuilding Together. She came to the door in her housecoat and promptly invited everyone in to see her rebuilt house. In good spirits and smiling, she told all the students to take as many pictures as they liked. For me, it was amazing to see the interior beautifully furnished with brand new appliances, a dining room table and a gorgeous bed. "You know I've never had much money, but I loved to show off my house to people," Ms. Gibbs stated. "Thanks to those who helped me, I can show everyone this beautiful house again."
She continued to give a tour of her house to the students while telling her story and dispensing advice. "I lost everything after the storm. All my material possessions, my mother, four sons, my brother, and then my husband. But luckily I wasn't going through it alone. The good Lord helped me through and it's just me and Him for the next few years." After graciously posing for portraits in front of her new stove, Ms. Gibbs told everyone that she loved them and to always be safe. After a hug goodbye, she closed the door and continued on with her morning routine.
Four months ago, I remembered standing there where the side door is now and seeing a gaping hole that exposed the wood framing of the interior. Thanks to Rebuilding Together New Orleans, the Seattle Seahawks, KIRO 750 and all the residents of the city of Seattle, a gaping hole both figuratively and literally was repaired in Ms. Gibbs' life. She can now share memories and create new ones in her old home again. Most importantly she can move on with her life and age in a safer and more energy-efficient home. Thank you Seattle and if you're ever in New Orleans order yourself some red beans and rice, hear some jazz straight from the source and check out the home that was rebuilt out of your kindness and generosity.