76-year-old Maria Vega is a Cuban American immigrant who has lived in Louisiana for 40 years, she has resided at her current address in New Orleans for 36 of those years. Ms. Vega’s husband is deceased, but she has a daughter, two granddaughters and three great-granddaughters.
During Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Vega was forced to leave her home. She returned to New Orleans two months later only to find that, out of everyone on her block of the neighborhood, she was the only resident who had returned home.
At the time, utility and city services had not been reestablished in the area. Ms. Vega was alone in her neighborhood with evidence of destruction surrounding her. She describes this time as “an immensely frightening experience.”
One of Ms. Vega’s friends, Ms. Blanca, helped connect her with the United Saints. We committed to painting the entire exterior of Ms. Vega’s home, carport and enclosed patio area. In addition, the United Saints helped make her home more secure by cutting down dangerously loose tree branches in her yard.
Volunteer groups also cleaned out the gutters of the home and removed debris from her yard. With the help of enthusiastic volunteers, the project took 3 weeks to complete. Volunteers from Assumption College (Massachusetts), the University of Minnesota’s Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority (Alpha Iota chapter) and St. John’s University (New York) did the work under United Saints’ staff guidance and supervision.
Ms. Vega’s exterior of the home is now complete, and she will no longer be in jeopardy of backlash from the city regarding the outward appearance of the home.