ribbon cutting

Grant recipients expand reach as they build hope, health of communities

By Ellen Nason

The inspirational stories of several nonprofits and the people they serve have been told through this blog. We want to share news about their continuing success and extraordinary efforts to make a difference in their communities.

Two Humana Communities Benefit grant recipients recently completed or started projects that will have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of many more lives – and on their communities.

folding chairs in a room
The renovation of Sterling Hall was the result of hours of hard work by volunteers and monetary donations by many.

Arc of Greater New Orleans
Arc of Greater New Orleans earlier this month held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its renovated Sterling Hall in Chalmette, Louisiana. The organization has been serving hundreds of children, adults and families in three parishes for decades, but its St. Bernard Parish facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Archdiocese of New Orleans helped provide a new home for the organization, which offers opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to live full, active lives and become an integral part of their community. The land and buildings that the Archdiocese gave the nonprofit were heavily damaged and needed refurbishing. Arc had succeeded in starting a farm and renovated the rectory, and this month it took another giant step forward as it opened Sterling Hall as its new community center.

The new community center’s renovation resulted from the hard work of community volunteers and monetary donations from many, including the Humana Foundation. Arc hopes to use the facility as a way to create revenue by renting it out for events and to provide employment for those it serves. Arc participants will help set up for events, clean up afterward and work in the kitchen.

Learn more about this organization through its website and our blog article from last year, Arc of Greater New Orleans: Building healthier communities, enriching lives.

Starting Right, Now
Starting Right, Now, a nonprofit in Tampa, Florida, is dedicated to helping the area’s growing population of homeless youth find homes – and a future.

thank you note
This thank-you note to volunteers and donors was displayed in Sterling Hall during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The organization, a 2014 Humana Communities Benefit grant winner, was founded by Vicki Sokolik, whose goal is to go beyond providing temporary shelter and temporary solutions. Her goal is to end homelessness, one child at a time, by taking a holistic and personalized approach that helps young people with every need, both immediate and in the future. The program emphasizes education, empowerment, motivation, responsibility, stability and community. It has already helped more than 150 formerly homeless youth in Hillsborough County. Sokolik hopes to help hundreds more in coming years with an expansion of the original facility and opening another in Pinellas County. She has already moved toward that goal last month by breaking ground for new housing for homeless youth in Pinellas County.

Learn more about her efforts, her organization and two of the teens whose lives were changed by reading our earlier story, Starting Right, Now: Giving teens a home and hope for the future and by watching this video.

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