As New Orleans continues its process of recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans will celebrate the opening of the Clifford N. Rosenthal Community Resource Center on May 5, 2009.
UJA-Federation of New York made this possible through funding the Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Redevelopment Initiative, which helped support the construction of the center.

“UJA-Federation demonstrated its deep commitment to renewing and sustaining community life in the Gulf,” said Cheryl Fishbein, who served as the chair of UJA-Federation’s Hurricane Relief Committee. The committee was responsible for allocating funds raised through the New York Jewish community, which responded with donations directed to provide humanitarian aid for evacuees and resources to revitalize distressed communities throughout the Gulf Coast.

“Even before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the Upper Ninth Ward did not have a regulated financial institution, which meant that people there were often reliant on check cashers and payday lenders,” Fishbein said. “The destruction that followed Katrina made things even worse. Our supporting the Clifford N. Rosenthal Community Center in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward will bring new life, including new economic life, to the area.”

The center is located in St. Claude, a low-income neighborhood in New Orleans, and will be home to local organizations providing community services, including A Shared Initiative (ASI) Federal Credit Union.

The new center is part of the broader support that UJA-Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund delivered to distressed communities throughout the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. From October 2005 to November 2007, more than $6 million was given to support four key needs: crisis intervention, health care, community reconstruction, and rebuilding the Gulf Coast’s Jewish communities.

“Through our grants, we sought to seed programs and resources that would be sustainable and continue to support medium- and long-term development, making communities stronger than they were prior to Katrina,” says Alan Cohen, senior director of UJA-Federation’s Office of Strategic Planning and Organizational Resources. “We targeted a significant portion of our funds, therefore, to support the community-investment program to provide no- and low-interest loans to rebuild healthy neighborhoods — money that would remain in the communities for years to come.”

Other projects that were made possible through the Hurricane Relief Fund continue to serve local communities as well. These include a mobile medical unit that brings health care to children and their families as part of the Baton Rouge Children’s Health Project; the East Baton Rouge Laboratory Academy, a college preparatory high school in Baton Rouge; and a new site for Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, which added New Orleans to the cities where it engages young Jewish adults with antipoverty organizations.