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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Meraux Foundation Announces Hurricane Ida Grant Recipients; Donates Safety Equipment to Sheriff’s Reserve Deputies

Meraux Foundation Board Member Bill Haines presented safety lights to Lt. Eric Eilers, commander of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division.

Photo Courtesy of the Meraux Foundation

By Todd Ragusa

The Meraux Foundation awarded over $146,000 to local nonprofit organizations both impacted by Hurricane Ida and helping people in the recovery. 

“We are proud to partner with these grantees to empower their service in our community as well as in neighboring parishes that were hard hit by the hurricane,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “These funds are focused on meeting immediate recovery needs as well as creating long-term, sustainable improvements in St. Bernard Parish.”

Through its Hurricane Ida Recovery Grant Program, the Meraux Foundation awarded:

• $83,000 to the Family Violence Program of St. Bernard for a match grant opportunity and to repair its hurricane-damaged residential building, which serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, human trafficking, elder abuse, and child abuse.

• $13,700 to the Community Center of St. Bernard to fund its “backpack program” that provides food to students over the weekend, to restock its pantry after food was lost during power outages, to provide gift cards for locals, to make repairs, and to purchase additional equipment. 

• $10,000 to the Arc of Greater New Orleans (ArcGNO) to make repairs to the Chalmette Community Center/Sterling Hall facility, which serves 24 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

• $10,000 to the Nunez Community College Foundation for an emergency fund to help students replace course materials and supplies and with basic needs as a result of Hurricane Ida.

• $10,000 to St. Bernard Gives Back to help those affected from Hurricane Ida in lower Louisiana parishes with meals, cleaning supplies, and gifts for children.

• $10,000 to the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, in partnership with the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, to distribute relief and recovery grants to the hardest-hit businesses in the River Region.

• $5,000 for gift cards that were distributed during “St. Bernard Day on the Bayou,” an event that that provided direct support to residents of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ida. 

• $5,000 to the Irene Campbell Foundation for a disaster recovery food giveaway and to support its service to young people in St. Bernard Parish through food, clothing, and school supply giveaways as well as through a workforce development program.

Meanwhile, the Meraux Foundation donated 35 “Guardian Angel” law enforcement safety lights to the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division. The powerful clip-on LED lights have a long battery life, helping improve visibility and keep officers safe.

The all-volunteer Reserve Division deputies play an important role in supplementing the parish’s police force in specific situations, including during large scale events such as festivals, parades, and athletic events.

“We are so grateful to all our sheriff’s deputies and glad to provide this gear to help keep them safe,” said Meraux Foundation Board Member Bill Haines, who presented the donation to Lt. Eric Eilers, commander of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division. “They are always there to help when we have an event at Docville Farm, from providing security to managing traffic.”

The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard.

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