For the Good of the Gulf: UNC Law Winter/Spring Break Pro Bono Project

Monday, December 19, 2005

Beignets make a great start to the day...

Since we drove into New Orleans at night, I didn't get to see much of the city. Instead, my New Orleans experience started with a heaping plate of beignets and powdered sugar from the famous Cafe Du Monde. I believe I have found my new love. Fried dough, covered in sugar, made a great start to my day.

We are working in the Pro Bono Office of New Orleans, and I spent the day looking to update contact information for attorneys and the clients they represent. I'm sure others have explained the process, so I won't bore readers by repeating it. Needless to say, those who work here at this office pursue every possible option to best represent the people of New Orleans and find those who were displaced by Katrina.

After lunch, five us (there are 15 on the trip) began working specifically on homeless cases. This looks like it will be my project for the rest of the week. Basically, we are searching the records and homeless shelters to find those homeless clients who were on-file in the past. We need to get in touch with these folks so we can make sure they know to register with FEMA for priority housing. The homeless will be bumped to the top of FEMA's and HUD's list for housing assistance as long as they register by Jan. 11th. It's a good opportunity for them, especially considering that they will be eligible for housing anywhere in the U.S. (not just New Orleans). Therefore, it's imperative that we do our part in contacting them and giving them the proper information so that they can gain a little relief.

I hope to see some of the city this evening. From the little I have seen, there is still much work to be done. But it's encouraging to see the hard work and determination from the few locals with whom we have spoken so far. Although some offices are still closed and some homes still vacant, there seems to be a strong sense of pride and earnestness in rebuilding. I just hope that we can contribute our small part.

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