SAFER takes the direct approach to rebuilding the city of New Orleans, offering free labor to people who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of repairing their homes. We communicate directly with our families about their needs and their hopes for their rebuilt homes, and with community leaders and organizations about their plans for revitalizing their neighborhood. We realize that rebuilding can be a huge challenge, especially for homeowners who have few funds or also have the responsibility of a job and caring for a family. SAFER’s approach to rebuilding is to try to make the return home as simple as possible by helping the family in every aspect of rebuilding: applying for loans, getting building permits, and finding skilled labor to repair plumbing, electrical work, and roofing, among other tasks. Once the family is home, we can provide further assistance, such as finding a good daycare or school and getting money donated for groceries, furniture, or appliances.
SAFER volunteers learn to hang drywall, install insulation, sand, texture and paint, and install siding. Their work can save a New Orleans family thousands in labor costs, and usually takes only several months to complete. SAFER volunteers show that a small, determined group can offer real help to a community without the high cost, delays, and confusion that can accompany larger, less community-based recovery projects.
SAFER focuses the skills, energy, and spare time of student volunteers on the efforts to rebuild New Orleans. It allows both local students and visitors from around the United States to take part in projects with concrete results. To date, over 1,600 SAFER volunteers have gutted 90 homes and rebuilt 14 more. In rebuilding a hurricane-damaged house, the volunteers not only have the chance to help a family, but to develop a relationship with them. SAFER wants to bring fellow New Orleanians home, to help our neighbors rather than provide impersonal charity. We are more BBQ than contract, more birthday party than board meeting. We are low-key but hands on, students but hard workers, fun but serious about rebuilding our community. Help SAFER and be a part of rebuilding New Orleans.