Sunday, August 23, 2015

Grocer to the Lower Ninth

Hurricane Katrina formed as Tropical Depression Twelve over the southeastern Bahamas, ten years ago today. Five days later, shortly after Katrina was upgraded to a Category Five storm, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of that city. He called Katrina "a storm that most of us have long feared." The devastation was unbelievable, in several regions, but especially in New Orleans. Some estimates say that 80% of New Orleans evacuated, and in the Ninth Ward, return has been slow. Until recently, there were no stores in the Lower Ninth, and with no place to shop for simple groceries, it was difficult to attract residents.

Meet Burnell Cotlon and his wife Keasha. They wanted to make a difference, and so using their life savings, and with the help of a GoFundMe campaign, they opened up a market last fall. It was an immediate hit! There was nowhere else to shop in the neighborhood, and many who life there don't have cars or enough money to pay taxi fare every time they need to buy basic items like milk, bread, or rice. The Coltons have filled a need and they aren't finished yet. They want to expand their store and fill it with just about anything their neighbors might need. They even ask for suggestions. Oh and they want to open a Laundromat too, since there is no place for people there to wash their clothing. They are hoping that the success of their business will cause others to want to return to an area that the rest of New Orleans seems to have forgotten.

When I first heard about these wonderful people I couldn't help but smile. It's always nice to see neighbors helping neighbors. It's great to see a business with a heart! That they keep wanting to do more is so encouraging too. It is costly to start such an endeavor though and so they have set up a new GoFundMe campaign, specifically so they can expand and bring in refrigerators for more food, as well as washers and dryers. You can help. Click HERE to go to that campaign and donate any amount. Let's all pitch in and help the "Grocer to the Lower Ninth," do even more!

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