Volunteer FAQ's

Emergency Communities is operating a community recovery center in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, about ten minutes from the French Quarter. We are providing local residents with a number of free services including three nutritious meals a day, house gutting, residential rebuilding, yard clean up, laundry facilities, internet access and long-distance phones. We are currently serving over five hundred residents everyday! Emergency Communities also works with children at a FEMA trailer park organizing after school programs, movie nights and other activities. This summer we will also be running a summer camp program for local youth in the Lower Ninth Ward.

What should I do if I want to volunteer?

All you have to do is read over this information. Once you are committed to coming, fill out the volunteer application attached to this email, and we will send you a confirmation if we can accommodate you. We require a minimum stay of *one week* unless you are providing your own transportation to and from site.

Are there work requirements?

EC volunteers are self-motivated and here to serve.  We tend to work eight hours a day or until the job is done. There are a wide variety of tasks to perform, and we encourage everyone to bring their creativity to our community. If you have a special skill—from plumbing to massage therapy to a great recipe—we’re always happy to make use of it. Here are some possible tasks:

*Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner (planning, prepping & facilitating meals, serving meals, etc.)
*Dishwashing and general clean-up
*Trash and Recycling
*Maintenance and operation of service areas
*General Cleaning/Organization/Artful Beautification of community spaces
*Carpentry, Electricity and Plumbing
*Off-site projects (house gutting, rebuilding, yard work, residential street clean up)
*Working with Children—summer camps and special events (weekly movie nights, family events)

When you arrive to site, you will be given a tour and orientation and the chance to discuss these tasks with an on-site coordinator. Please do not ask what you will be doing before your arrival—it all depends on which community needs are the greatest during your time with us. You should expect any combination of work both on-site and in the community. We encourage volunteers to plug-in where they feel most comfortable and/or see the most need. Please let us know if you have a special skill or talent and we will try to accommodate any personal limitations or interests *once you have arrived to site*.

What does it cost to volunteer with EC?

Nothing!  The only money you’ll need is that which you plan to spend personally. We provide housing and three meals a day for all volunteers. 

Is housing provided for volunteers?

Yes! We are currently housing short-term volunteers across the street from our site in the Lower Ninth Ward in a building owned by a local church. It is a large warehouse-like space we’ve filled with cots. Please be sure to bring whatever bedding you will need to make yourself comfortable. Also, many volunteers choose to bring and pitch tents within this space for a bit of privacy. Please feel free to do the same!

Will I be able to charge my cell phone? Take a warm shower? Wash my clothes? Check my email?

Yes! All volunteers have access to free internet, laundry and long-distance phones. There are electrical outlets throughout site you can use and all cell phone providers receive adequate to excellent coverage. We have outdoor, propane- and solar-heated showers.

What should I pack?

*Sleeping bag or blanket and pillow
*Tent (if you so choose)
*Flashlight/lantern and batteries
*Comfortable, casual, warm-weather clothing
*Sneakers or work boots
*Scarf or hat (volunteers must wear head covering when serving meals or cooking)
*Sandals/Shower shoes and rubber boots for rain, if possible
*Towel and wash cloth
*Personal toiletry supplies & medications
*Mosquito repellent

How do I get to Emergency Communities?

You can reach New Orleans on Greyhound or Amtrak, or by air to the Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY).  If you get your travel plans to us ASAP and will be arriving between the hours of 10am and 7pm, we will pick you up! Please note we do suggest a donation (amount is up to your discretion) to cover transportation costs such as fuel and vehicle maintenance. If you are planning to drive, please Mapquest directions to our Goin’ Home Café in the Lower Ninth Ward at 6030 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117.  When driving, please try to arrive between the hours of 9am and 7pm. 

Are people under 18 allowed to volunteer?

Volunteers must be at least 18, unless accompanied by a parent or adult, who must be willing to accept full responsibility for the minor.

Do you accept groups?

Yes--We ask that groups designate a contact person to communicate with Emergency Communities and to fill out *one* application form for the entire group, providing the names and dates of birth for each of its members.  If the members of the group are under 18, we require 1 adult supervisor per 3 underage volunteers.  We are no longer accepting high school (or high school aged) groups.  Also, we prefer that groups consist of 15 or fewer due to space limitations.

Do I need to bring any food?

Our kitchens serve three hot, wholesome meals a day, including vegetarian (not vegan) options. All food and beverages are free for volunteers. Please bring any special dietary supplements you may need.

What is the weather like?

Check out weather.com for the latest from New Orleans, LA.

Will I get free time to explore the city of New Orleans?

EC asks volunteers to work eight hours a day or forty hours a week. It is easiest for us if you plan any leisure activities for the beginning or end of your time in New Orleans, before or after, and separate from, your time with Emergency Communities. We do not provide regular transportation into the French Quarter and do not plan social activities in the city for volunteers. However, we do encourage volunteers to visit the city, enjoy local music and food and get familiar with the local culture and great city we’re working to help.

Is it safe to volunteer in Louisiana?

Health Concerns:  Our current biggest health concern is airborne mold and particulate matter, which can be problematic for people with allergies or asthma. Potential volunteers with extreme respiratory conditions, other immune deficiencies or mold allergies should take this into consideration. 

Volunteers are encouraged to get a tetanus shot.

Safety and Security:  EC will not be responsible for your personal property and has no methods by which to lock up personal possessions. Please pack and plan accordingly. An armed Security Guard patrols volunteer housing and the site from 10PM to 6AM every night.

Is there a Hurricane Evacuation Plan?

EC takes responsibility for the short-term evacuation of any volunteer who cannot provide his or her own transportation.

I’m driving and have extra room in my car. Can I bring anything?

If you would like to bring goods, please check our Current Needs List. Please note: we are providing large amounts of food and supplies to the public, so large quantities and industrial sizes are most useful.

I’m driving and have extra room in my car. Does anyone need a ride?

Check your local and the New Orleans ride share information on Craig's list.

I want to help, but I can’t come to Louisiana right now. Is there any thing I can do?

Yes! We are a grassroots organization and encourage volunteers to take up fundraising activities such as party hosting, networking with friends and family, and approaching local businesses and volunteer groups. We can provide you with a Fundraising Kit of images, video, fliers, etc. Please check out our page on volunteering from home.


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2006 Emergency Communities
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