The legacy of New Orleans businessman and entrepreneur Alexander Milne has changed form, but it continues to benefit youths of the region.
This weekend, the latest iteration of the Milne Home will formally open in the Waldheim community of St. Tammany Parish, near Covington. The home already has begun providing services for 48 developmentally challenged people, many of whom had lived at the Milne Home on Gentilly Boulevard in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina drove them to temporary quarters in Laurel, Mississippi.
Meanwhile, the former Milne Boys Home on Franklin Avenue in Gentilly has been renovated for office space for the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. But it will continue to ring with childrens’ laughter.
The two gyms on the Milne Campus are under renovation for recreational programming, and NORD youth athletic programs take place on the fields. Facilities are also available for rent, with the revenue directly benefiting improvements at all centers and parks.
It’s also a spot for the community to gather. The Franklin Avenue fields also were a hub of community activity recently when the Seabrook Neighborhood Association held its Night Out Against Crime there.
“It’s a great chance to socialize and meet neighbors,” said Seabrook President Laurena McMillian, who has been active with the association for more than 30 years.
Community members of all ages pitched in, including 5-year-old Madison Hampton. Volunteers served free hot dogs, chili, nachos, water and homemade cookies. Joyclyn Owens and Janice Eugene with J & J K.I.S.S. (Keeping Individuals Safe and Sheltered) provided information about their resources to help working people financially affected by a life crisis.
The story of the north shore Milne Home began in 1838 with the Milne Home for Girls. Throughout more than 175 years of existence, the facility evolved to include adult men and women of all ages, all with the goal to provide an environment in which clients could live productive and fulfilling lives.
The original home was established in the will of Alexander Milne, who made his fortune through brick-making and real estate. He is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, with his will engraved on the granite tomb.
“It is my positive wish and intention that an asylum for destitute orphan boys and another for the relief of destitute orphan girls shall be established at Milneburg, in this parish, under the name of the Milne Asylum for Destitute Orphan Boys and the Milne Asylum for Destitute Orphan Girls.”
The new Milne Home has 12 residential houses, each with four individual bedrooms, on a 55-acre tract. There is a community center, a medical clinic, an administrative building and more, all on-site. The community has its own water and electrical systems, as well as its own roads.
The cost to build was approximately $11 million, with $6.2 million coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency via the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Additional funding came from the Milne organization and donors, according to Gary Bidne, the director of development and marketing for Alexander Milne Developmental Services.
Most of the residents are from the New Orleans area. “Their loved ones can get to us more easily now,” he said. “For some of our older residents, their relatives are older, too. So the drive to Laurel was exhausting (for them.)”