Larger Community Outreach:

Local Church Hosting Talk with Katrina Survivor
and Community-Builder

Seven-and-a-half years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans (among others) has still not recovered. In the area where the canal levee was breached by an errant barge, the whole community was wiped out and still most of it just consists of overgrown foliage, concrete slabs and porch stoops leading to nowhere. This area is lakeside (New Orleans-speak for north) of St. Claude Avenue. Riverside (south) of St. Claude, most buildings are still standing although many are vacant and/or in disrepair. Essentially, the entire infrastructure of this part of the city was destroyed, a majority of families who evacuated have never returned and those that have returned to their longstanding community continue to struggle. There are many reasons for this, too long to address here.

Amid the rubble, a local native, Ward “Mack” McClendon, spent considerable time praying and contemplating the situation in which the community found itself: Schools had not reopened, libraries no longer existed, unguided youth were wandering the streets with nothing productive to do. The village had lost its “heart” and needed to be remedied if the Lower Ninth Ward were ever to become vibrant again. Ultimately, Mack founded the Lower Ninth Ward Village Community Center, housed in a used manufacturing facility whose structure appears much like an airplane hangar. Mack has made it his life’s mission to build this center to serve many needs of the community, which now contains a small library, computer center, kitchen, skate park, garden and meeting/gathering space. The Center’s funding has been intermittent and not always reliable.

For the past three summers, volunteer members and youth of Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano have traveled on week-long mission trips to New Orleans to work with Mack and undertake projects to help the Center get on its feet. They plan another trip this year, in late July/early August to continue the work. This service is so meaningful to the past participants that they are inviting members of other area Unitarian Universalist congregations and other interested unaffiliated community members to join them. Plans are not finalized yet in detail, but interested parties will be kept abreast of the plans as they develop.

Community Church is bringing Mack McClendon up to Plano this spring for the weekend of March 22-24 to give him the opportunity to speak to people interested in hearing his story and hopefully willing and able to join the group from the church in its annual mission. On Saturday evening March 23rd at 5:30pm, Community is hosting a Louisiana dinner followed by a talk and discussion with Mack at the church location. Louisiana folk (including Mack) will prepare the authentic cuisine. A $5.00 donation is requested to defray the cost of the food. The following morning at 10:30, Mack will be the featured speaker at the church’s Sunday morning worship service.

Anyone interested in attending these events can either email or call 214-718-7590.

About Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano:

CUUC is a congregation of welcoming, diverse, caring and committed people. We provide a place to examine spiritual questions individually and communally; serve by enriching the spirit through words, music and fellowship; and educate all ages by promoting ethics, a sense of morality and the pursuit of personal and shared truths. We work together to make our world a more compassionate, just and respectful place.

Community Unitarian Universalist Church

2875 E Parker Road

Plano, Texas 75074


# # # #