New Orleans-Based Marines Serve Community With Special Meal

New Orleans-Based Marines Serve Community With Special Meal

A guest dances at the Thanksgiving lunch during the Marine Corps Band New Orleans performance at the Ozanam Inn, a homeless shelter in New Orleans, La., Nov. 19, 2014. The band played traditional New Orleans songs, creating a festive and exciting atmosphere for the event. Photo by LCpl Ian Ferro.

NEW ORLEANS - Marines with Marine Forces Reserve visited the Ozanam Inn, a homeless shelter in New Orleans, Nov. 19, 2014, to help serve a special Thanksgiving meal and distribute cold weather clothing to those in need.

Approximately 20 Marines, ranging from privates first class to master gunnery sergeants, worked side-by-side to ensure that during this year's holidays, no one was left behind.

"It was only supposed to be staff noncommissioned officers, but all the junior Marines in my section saw it, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to get out and help some people who are less fortunate," said PFC Valerie Schauver. "It is good for people to see Marines out here doing good things for the community."

The Marines helped with many different tasks, including moving boxes containing clothing and food, organizing and setting up the cafeteria, serving food and drinks, and cleaning tables.

Along with the Marine volunteers, Marine Corps Band New Orleans created a festive and exciting atmosphere for the event, playing several traditional New Orleans songs while interacting with guests. From young kids to elderly ladies, everyone received a good meal and entertainment.

"It is very helpful to us when a group such as the Marine Corps comes in," said Clarence Adams, the Ozanam Inn administrator. "Having the Marines to come in has a big impact on the people being fed. They feel like they haven't been forgotten."

The Marines fed more than 240 people including veterans wearing their old uniforms.

"Unfortunately, there is a huge number of veterans who are homeless," said Adams.

Adams explained how the shelter has different programs that strive to achieve long and short term goals. The most immediate goal is to end homelessness for veterans by the end of this year.

In coordination with the Housing Authority of New Orleans Initiative, Ozanam Inn has contributed to providing housing for 136 out of the 193 homeless veterans identified in New Orleans.

"We hope to become the first big city in the nation to end homelessness for veterans," said Adams.

In addition to that program, the shelter also serves three meals a day, every day. They provide jobs and temporary housing at the shelter until guests are able to rent their own residence.

"I feel like we are accomplishing something here because someone is being fed, clothed and helped every day," said Shanda Smith, the volunteer coordinator. "We serve five hundred meals a day."

The Ozanam Inn homeless shelter is slowly but certainly achieving their goal of helping those in need, and hope to one day vanquish homelessness in New Orleans.

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