Habitat for Humanity celebrates 30th year building homes in New - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Habitat for Humanity celebrates 30th year building homes in New Orleans


New Orleans, La.- It's been 30 years since the first Habitat for Humanity home was built on Flood Street in the Lower Ninth Ward.

That home no longer stands, but more than 500 homes have been built since then.

This is Dennis Kehoe's 22nd year volunteering for Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.

"We're helping a family to move into a nice house, and we're also improving the neighborhood," said Kehoe. "I try to come out about twice a month."

He's seen firsthand how Habitat has changed over the past few decades to build better quality and more energy efficient homes.

"Obviously the biggest change was hurricane Katrina which completely transformed everything in New Orleans, but it also transformed Habitat. It made it into a much larger organization," said Kehoe.

Kehoe worked with thousands of volunteers who flew in from throughout the country.

In just the first five years after the storm, Habitat officials say more than 100,000 volunteers came to New Orleans to help rebuild.

"Now that we're a little distance away from Katrina, the interest of volunteers who travel has gone elsewhere 'cause we've had other disasters," said Kehoe. "So now I think more of the volunteers are local."

Kehoe is a history professor at Tulane University. Every fall, he brings his students out on the work site to do some community service. On Saturday on Majestic Oaks Drive, they were starting Habitat's 505th new construction home in New Orleans.

Though, the importance of volunteers who still fly in, isn't lost.

"We come down from Brookfield, Wisconsin," said Nicholas Dominick.

This is Dominick's and Mary Felkner's fifth year volunteering.

It's knowing how big a difference. Just a few days of their time can make for a family's entire future that keeps them coming back.

"It's just an all around good feeling and to know that there's a need, that we can do tiny, a very tiny small part to help," said Felkner.

With walls that can now withstand stronger winds, homes that are more cost efficient, and staff that's better trained, Dennis Knothole says Habitat for Humanity will continue doing it's small part for decades to come.

"We've learned how to do things better, so we're always getting better at it," said Kehoe.

To learn about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity New Orleans, click here.

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