New Orleans Mission is putting men to work

Mission Lawn Care team (photo by Jessica Holly)
Mission Lawn Care team (photo by Jessica Holly)

New Orleans, La - Homelessness continues to be a serious problem for New Orleans.  A new program through the New Orleans Mission is not only taking men off the streets, it's putting them to work.

David Williams heads up Mission Lawn Care.  It's a yard maintenance service with a much greater purpose.  The goal is to give homeless men a job and a second chance.  "I lived out on the streets," said Williams.  "I just basically gave up.  I was tired of living on the street.  I tried to commit suicide."

All of the men on the Mission Lawn Care team have stories of hitting rock bottom.  Now, through this job, they hope to work their way to a better life.

It's not just a job.  The job is part of a year long training program.  When the year is up, the goal is to make sure these men have the skills and the money to make it on their own.

David Bottner is the New Orleans Mission's Executive Director.  "You have to commit to one full year where we can train you, teach you how to run your own business, teach you how to save your money," explained Bottner.

Bottner says each man in the program must save 50 percent of his pay.  At the end of the year long program, the men will access their savings to fund a fresh start.

"They now can have money to start their own business, get an apartment and create that life for them so that don't go back," said Bottner.  "That's what it's been all about."

After just three weeks in business, Mission Lawn Care is getting great reviews from it's biggest customer.

"Excellent, excellent," said Mitchell Danese with Habitat for Humanity. "Really was excited to get these people that I know wanted to work and really didn't have the opportunity to. Their program is putting people to work and with the various lots that New Orleans Habitat has, we're going to keep them busy for a very long time hopefully."

David Williams welcomes the work as he and his team mow and trim toward their goals through Mission Lawn Care.

David Bottner says the service would not have been possible without the generosity of Premier Nissan of Metairie.  He says the dealership donated the work truck and all of the lawn equipment.