The Bishop Perry Center, an outreach mission of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica, is launching a pilot program to provide professional services to the students of, initially, four Catholic elementary schools and their families.

Project HOPE will provide free medical, behavioral and legal assistance to families with children attending school at St. Alphonsus Catholic School, 2001 Constance St., New Orleans; Holy Ghost Catholic School, 2035 Toledano St., New Orleans; St. Stephen Catholic School, 1027 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans; and St. Anthony School, 900 Franklin Ave., Gretna.

Medical care will include eye, ear, dental and primary medical care screenings and follow-up care. As an example of follow-up care, students who need corrective eye glasses will be provided with the glasses at no charge. Behavioral care will include professional behavioral assessments and follow-up care for students and family members. Legal care will include professional legal services related to issues of family law.

Project HOPE is being coordinated for the Bishop Perry Center by Cynthia and Juan Valadez, professional business consultants who volunteer their services to the center. The program has been developed in consultation with Jan Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic schools, and Associate Superintendent RaeNell Houston.

The program is made possible by the generosity of a coalition of professional services providers assembled by the Bishop Perry Center’s staff. Coalition members are:

  • Brian Jakes, director, Southeast Louisiana Area Health Educational Center
  • Chris Carlone, The Lion’s Club Eye Foundation
  • Henry Gremillion, Louisiana State University School of Dentistry
  • Michelle Willis, LSU allied health/audiology department
  • Barbara Brown, Crescent Care Center
  • Alix Tarnowsky, Family Services of Greater New Orleans
  • Dr. Doug Walker, Mercy Family Center
  • Federal District Judge Jay Zainey and attorney Michael Arata of Project HELP (Homeless Experience Legal Protection).

Archbishop Gregory Aymond said professional screening services can help discover problems that may prevent a student from learning, which may cause in turn serious behavioral problems.

“Project HOPE addresses the need for these critical services, and the Archdiocese of New Orleans strongly supports this important outreach program and is grateful to those organizations and individuals who have pledged to provide these services for our children and their families,” Aymond said. “We believe that the project will demonstrate to those who control public spending for elementary education and to the community at large that when sufficient resources are invested in our young people, the returns are far, far greater than the investment.”