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Thanksgiving day brought hundreds of free turkey dinners in area charity halls, including the Ozanam Inn at 843 Camp St. (above), where 600 men and women were expected for a noon turkey dinner; and the Salvation Army, below, where cooks worked all day long to prepare turkey for a Thursday evening crowd. Cooks are David Perna (left), Bob Emery and Ivin Rainville (right).

While it was recently reported that the building Ozanam Inn occupies at 843 Camp St., in New Orleans has been sold, we want to reassure the public that Ozanam Inn is not closing nor will services be cut or interrupted. We are actively working on plans for a new space for Ozanam Inn to call home which we hope to announce soon.

This news hit during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual program where people come together to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness. Poverty is not exclusive to any one community and hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect far too many people. More than 42 million Americans are at risk of suffering from hunger, and nearly 1 in 5 children live in poverty.

I want to applaud the work of the City of New Orleans who partners with organizations like Ozanam Inn to put an end to homelessness in our community. According to the City of New Orleans’ website, New Orleans has a rate of 302 people who are homeless for every 100,000 residents which is much lower than many cities across the country. This number, however, does not count the many people in our neighborhoods who are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent or going to the doctor.

Hunters' donations next up for Hunters for the Hungry

For the past 64 years, Ozanam Inn has been providing shelter, food and clothing to the homeless in our community. Ozanam Inn offers supportive services free to anyone in need, which includes counseling, medical services, legal aid, a variety of housing programs and employment training which results in between 50-60 clients who find full-time employment annually helping to break the cycle of poverty. Last year, we provided 34,024 nights of shelter to more than 1,800 unique men, handed out 2,542 shelter vouchers to more than 300 different women, served 185,049 meals, distributed 14,000 articles of clothing and placed 130 clients in housing through our various permanent and rapid rehousing programs. We also provided more than 1,500 hours of medical and dental assistance to over 400 individuals through our partnerships with LSU Medical School, LSU Dental School, Tulane Medical School and referrals to Crescent City Vision.

Ursuline Academy day of service honors St. Angela Merici

Each and every one of us can make a big difference in the face of homelessness. As the holidays approach, people take time to consider what they’re thankful for and many choose to donate their attention and resources to others. In that spirit of giving, members of the community who are interested in supporting the work of Ozanam Inn can donate at www.ozanaminn.org or by mailing your donation to Ozanam Inn, P.O. Box 30565, New Orleans, LA 70190.

Claiborne Perrilliat

president, Ozanam Inn Board of Directors

New Orleans