Visions Newsletter Spring 2023

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Marilyn’s Dreams Are Coming True

Marilyn’s future is brighter because of your support.

Five years ago, Marilyn moved to New Orleans from Hammond with one thing in mind: get clean and sober. Now the 57-year-old has accomplished another goal: she is a high school graduate.

The mother of two knew she needed help with her sobriety. She felt like she was never going to be someone that her children could rely on or want in their lives again. That is when she made the decision to relocate away from her family and friends to seek care for her addiction. As a result, she found her way to Volunteers of America’s Tulane Avenue Single Room Occupancy program.

Once there, she continued her recovery care by attending meetings, working with case workers, and rediscovery of her faith. During one of these meetings, Marilyn mentioned that she always regretted dropping out of school. She was encouraged to enroll in St. Vincent de Paul’s Adult Learning Center to begin courses in attaining her goal.

St. Vincent’s offers one-on-one assistance to adults working towards their GED. “Marilyn was very dedicated in achieving her GED,” said Sister Bonita Sniegowsk, director of St. Vincent de Paul Adult Learning Center. “She would come to every appointment eager to move on to the next section.”

Marilyn’s two children are now back in her life, and she is someone they can count on to be there for them.

“I am so grateful to Volunteers of America and St. Vincent’s for caring so much for me and my wellbeing,” said Marilyn. “I am proud to say that my kids now say, ‘we got our mama back,’ and it is all because of the people He brought into my life. Without God’s grace, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

In February, Marilyn moved into her own apartment and started taking typing and computer classes at St. Vincent’s.

“I am so grateful to Volunteers of America and St. Vincent’s for caring so much for me and my wellbeing.” —Marilyn

Thank You For Supporting Those Most In Need

It is my hope that you and your family are well. Year 2023 is a year for continued success. The staff at Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana continues to amaze me with their undying dedication to the people we serve and their ability to constantly adapt to the needs of the communities we serve. This organization has been doing just that for 127 years. I know that with your help, we can continue our mission to help our most vulnerable neighbors and create hope for those who need it most.

Inside this issue, you will read several stories about the people we serve throughout the 16 parishes we work. One story focuses on an area that is near and dear to my heart–intellectual and developmental disabilities. You see, I started my career working as a Direct Support Professional in a group home and that first experience has forever changed my life. You will also read stories of resilience and perseverance when you read Marilyn’s and Joe’s stories. Though they faced different challenges, they both prevailed because of the generous support of people like you.

Our major fundraiser, “Reach For The Stars” breakfast will take place on Wednesday, April 19th at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center. I encourage you to make plans to attend this event. You will learn more about the programs and services we offer to your neighbors. I promise you will leave the breakfast feeling uplifted and proud of the work that you help fund. To learn more about this year’s breakfast, please contact Tony Enterante at

I am very grateful for your support over the past year. This year has already seen an increase in costs and the number of people seeking services. I am thankful to everyone who has helped thus far and there is still more support needed for our community. If you would like to make a difference in someone’s life, please visit and make a pledge today.

Thank you for all that you do and continue to do for Volunteers of America; I hope you stay safe and well.


Tod Smith Chair

S. Chuck Viator Chair-Elect

Stephen C. Schrempp Treasurer

Rupa Jolly Secretary

Louis Colin, Sr.

Thomas J. McGoey, II

Victoria Adams Phipps

Charique L. Richardson

Christy N. Ross

Lynn E. Swanson

Michelle Treschwig

David P. Vicknair


Volunteers of America is a movement organized to reach and uplift all people and bring them to the knowledge and active service of God. Volunteers of America, illustrating the presence of God through all that we do, serves people and communities in need and creates opportunities for people to experience the joy of serving others. Volunteers of America measures its success in positive change in the lives of individuals and communities we serve.

PRESIDENT & CEO MESSAGE Voris R. Vigee Voris R. Vigee

Joe Found His Joy Again

You helped Joe get back on his feet and smile again.

Joe struggled his entire life with anxiety and depression, but your support helped him overcome his mental health struggles.

“Volunteers of America really helped me,” Joe says. “They were able to listen to me talk about things that were going on to get it off my chest. That was important, and Volunteers of America connected me with the resources that I needed. Without Volunteers of America, I don’t know where I would be today.”

Joe lived and cared for his parents until they passed away. Then, Hurricane Ida washed away his family home. Joe found shelter and support with another family member, but when that family member passed away, he became homeless.

It was the most challenging time of his life. Homeless at age 65, Joe’s depression and anxiety intensified. He found his way to a transitional living facility on the Northshore, and that’s when Volunteers of America’s Behavioral Health Services program stepped up.

Joe and his case manager started to meet weekly to work on ways to improve his life. Joe found the support system he needed. He would talk freely about his depression and anxiety and began to work on ways to cope. One simple thing that helped was singing.

Joe loves to sing, and each week, he would take a break, go to the park and sing his heart out. It was something so simple that helped calm him and allowed him to focus on getting better.

Joe has since moved into permanent housing, but he still helps out around the facility. He volunteers daily as a janitor. Joe loves to help people, and because of your support, he is back on his feet and smiling again.

“Volunteers of America went the extra mile to put me in a better place,” Joe says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Volunteers of America. I’m just thankful to be back on the right path with a roof over my head.”

32.5% of adults in Louisiana reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, compared to 31.6% of adults in the U.S.



“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Volunteers
America. I’m just thankful
be back on the right path with a roof over my head.”—Joe

Jeffrey’s Art Speaks For Him

You enable Jeffery to live a full and creative life.

Artist Jeffery, 60, uses pencils, crayons, and chalk to create colorful, expressive work. His drawings have been exhibited in museums, and his work has placed in statewide art shows.

Jeffery, resident of Volunteers of America’s Supported Living Services program, has developmental delays and some issues communicating with others. Yet Jeffrey, who has never had formal art

instruction, has something to express, and he does it well. One of his recent pieces was highlighted on Volunteers of America’s Christmas card.

Those who work with Jeffrey at Volunteers of America noticed and nurtured his natural artistic talents. “We all have helped him focus and looked for ways to encourage him and develop his abilities,” says Jeffrey’s Direct Support

Professional facilitator, who helps him live independently, with 24-hour support, in his own apartment. “We set out to get his work shown at art shows and other places.”

Volunteers of America helps persons with disabilities by focusing on their abilities. This philosophy is the foundation of the Supported Living program, which works with more than 100 people like Jeffrey. “What we do, in particular with Jeffery, is give individualized care,” his facilitator says. “People with disabilities don’t need a cookie-cutter approach.”

Previously, Jeffrey lived in a Volunteers of America community home with others with disabilities. But when he was ready for independent living, our program was there to help. Now, with support, he enjoys his apartment, goes daily to a day program and pursues his interests.

Jeffrey doesn’t say much, but, as his facilitator points out, “He tells us he appreciates us. He says

he trusts us and that means a lot.” Supported Living gives Jeffrey, and all persons with disabilities served, independence, confidence, and the ability to lead lives that are their own. And that makes for a full life.


Blind Army Veteran Feels Right At Home Again

Because of you, Chester’s home is safe and beautiful.

Sometimes it’s the little things that you can’t see that mean the most.

Chester lost his sight about five years ago, but the memories of the garden in front of his home still paint a vivid picture in his mind. Now, he knows that others can see the garden every time they pass by his Jefferson home.

Thanks to Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana, with a little help from volunteers, Chester’s garden has be restored, and the thought of those beautiful flowers forced him to hold back tears.

“I know what it used to look like, and it hasn’t looked like that in years,” he said. “It means so much to me. I’ve wanted to get it done for so long, and now it’s done. And that means more than you can know.”

But that’s not the only thing Volunteers of America did for the Army veteran. Our Craftsman program installed handrails on his

front porch and back steps as well as made his bathroom handicap accessible.

“There were a few times that I lost my balance, but I know how to fall,” he said with a smile. “I was challenged getting in and out of the bathtub, so that was a true blessing.”

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, mental health counseling, and empowerment.

The oldest of five siblings, Chester lives in his grandparent’s home, just blocks from where he grew up. After serving six years in the Army, he studied at Delgado to be an electrician. But about 20 years ago, his vision started to dim, and five years ago he went completely blind.

After living a full, independent life, Chester needed some assistance in his older years, and Volunteers of America is honored to be able to support him.

“Y’all have been a blessing,” he said. “I jumped for joy when the bathroom was done, and now, I have my garden back because of these wonderful people. This means so much. I can’t even explain it. This is really something special.”

After living a full, independent life, Chester needed some assistance in his older years, and Volunteers of America is honored to be able to support him.


PORTRAITS of GRATITUDE —How many ways can Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana serve the community? As many ways as there are generous supporters and volunteers. Thanks to all who help make a real difference.

s Gerald “Pierre” Rooks, the Director of Veteran Services, was recently named to the Military Basketball Hall of Fame! Gerald served in the US Navy from 1984-2004 and represented our nation on the Navy’s basketball team from 1989-1999. During his time on the team, he was selected to represent our country in the 1996 World Military Games, which was held in Rome. This was the first time that these games were held and featured military representatives from around the world competing in Olympic style games. Gerald was honored late last year in Colorado Springs when he was presented with his blue Hall of Fame jacket. We are grateful for his service to our country and all the work he does to support veterans in our area. Congratulations, Gerald!

Each year, our Auto Donation provides critical funding that goes directly to the general budget, which funds more than 20 social service programs to help America’s most vulnerable. It’s as easy as calling (504) 525-2179 and setting up your vehicle donation today!


Carnival was back to normal this year for some of the people served in our Supported Living Services program when they attended the 2023 Pinnacles Mardi Gras Ball. This annual event was put on hold for the past two years because of the pandemic.

Recently, members of the Spirit of 76 Daughters of the American Revolution dropped off care packages for our veterans living in the Oscar J. Tolmas Veterans Pavilion in honor of Valentine’s Day.


4152 Canal Street

New Orleans, LA 70119

(504)482-2130 | (504)482-1922 fax

Reach For The Stars Breakfast

Each year we rely on the generosity of our breakfast sponsors to offset all expenses associate with the breakfast. This sponsorship is a wonderful way to support our mission and gain exposure for your business.

There are still spots available to be a sponsor at this year’s Reach For The Stars breakfast. If interested, please contact Tony Enterante at or call (504)489-8691

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 1716 New Orleans, LA ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED Join the Booth Legacy and remember us in your will. Call Tony Enterante at (504)486-8691 for more details. REACH FOR THE STARS BREAKFAST Pontchartrain Center in Kenner
Various Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana services are accredited by CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditations Commission, and ACA, the American Correctional Association. Volunteers of America is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent provided by the law.

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