The NADA Project in New Orleans is Completed
NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 30, 2009) - The Lusher Charter School, in the festive spirit and tradition of the Big Easy, dedicated its newly-renovated athletic fields, which were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, to one of its hometown heroes during a two-hour ceremony last week.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees led the effort to renovate the fields, which will be used for competitive football, soccer, baseball, softball and physical education classes. The renovation was made possible by a $400,000 gift from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation (NADCF) to the Brees Dream Foundation, which was established by Drew Brees and his wife Brittany in 2003.
“The generosity of the National Automobile Dealers Association and its foundation helped make the restoration of the athletic fields at Lusher Charter School a reality,” Brees said in a written statement. “They stepped forward when needed, and the fields will make an impact for years not only on young people in the Lusher school family, but also children throughout that neighborhood.”
“We all owe NADA a debt of gratitude, and there is no greater demonstration of how private companies working together can make a difference in the community,” Brees added.
Students and faculty overwhelmingly chose the name “Brees Family Field” in honor of Brees and his efforts to improve the lives of residents in New Orleans. The total cost of the renovation was $670,000, and with funds from NADCF and the Brees' foundation, the project was completed this past summer.
“Everyone at the dedication ceremony knew about NADA. And they were aware of our contribution to the school,” says Marshall Hebert, NADA's director from Louisiana, who represented NADA at the Oct. 20 event. “Drew Brees thanked NADA on stage, and I was thanked nearly 20 times at the reception by the school faculty.”
The dedication ceremony included special performances by hundreds of students in the arts and athletics departments. Hebert, a Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealer in Shreveport, La., says student performances included numerous dancers, a string orchestra and a jazz band. The school's administration, faculty, staff and student body, as well as parents and friends, were in attendance.
“All of the students, football players, dancers and musicians put on quite a show,” says Hebert. “It was a good night for entertainment.”
In May 2008, Annette Sykora, then-NADA chairman, demonstrating the association's commitment to the recovery of New Orleans, presented Brees with a check for $400,000 at the school. The NADA convention theme, “Committed to Community,” was chosen with the Lusher School project in mind.
The effects of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in August 2005, have been shattering and long lasting.
“NADA's contribution was good for the state and the city that was hit so hard,” says Hebert. “Parts of New Orleans are totally back, but there are some areas still 10 years away from recovering.”
NADCF, established in 1975, is the philanthropic arm of NADA. Funds contributed by new-car and -truck dealers and friends provide financial support to educational institutions, emergency relief, grants to colleges and universities, and the donation of CPR training units, to name just a few causes.
Since the program started in 1992, the NADCF Emergency Relief Fund has come to the aid of more than 7,500 dealership employees with financial assistance totaling about $5 million.