Operation Outreach’s Successful Inaugural Mission Makes History
While Hurricane Katrina came and went almost six years ago, there are still thousands of “forgotten” families still homeless or living in FEMA trailers. Enter Operation Outreach: Event Pros in Action (OO), founded just four months ago by Susie Perelman and Stacey Mehalik of Mosaic Inc., Pittsburgh, PA.
This charitable organization lets special events professionals give back to those in need. Their endeavors will focus on relief efforts for communities that have experienced a natural disaster and are in the process of recovering from substantial loss and rebuilding communities.
Their first “operation?” Fixing and furnishing homes for several families displaced by Katrina. And event pros nationwide joined in the effort, donating time, money and resources to achieve the task.
For four days and nights (July 16-19, 2011) 30 event professionals sorted through 15,000 donated items, moved furniture, laid carpet, hung pictures, made deliveries and refurnished homes in the pouring rain and sweltering New Orleans’ summertime heat. Working with NOLA-based St. Bernard Project (SBP), an organization that builds or rebuilds destroyed homes, OO designed and refurnished the homes of the Jones and Green families, two families that were truly in need. In addition, enough items were donated to help more than 40 households get fresh looks.
The inspired four days of festivities began with an official Kick-Off Cocktail Reception at renowned French Quarter restaurant, ACME Oyster House, for SBP personnel, the homeowners, product donors from across the nation and other distinguished guests.
The following days were “all business.” Design Angels Mark Wells of Hello Florida! and Richard Carbotti of Perfect Surroundings watched their original interior design plans become reality. Special guest Steve Kemble added his design expertise as well. The rest of the team pitched in by installing carpet and window treatments, painting and dry walling, and helping the designers.
AFR Event Furnishings donated furniture and accessories including microwaves, vacuums and TVs, carpet came from American Turf & Carpet and plates, dishes, flatware, glassware, stemware, curtains and decorative items were donated by companies including Mosaic Inc., Rentals Unlimited, Liberty Party Rental, A-1 Tablecloth, Atlas Party Rental, Impulse Enterpries, Panache, Eventworks, Classic Party Rental, Touch of Paradise, kool. Party Rental and others.
After a total of four long days of physical labor, the homes were ready for very public homecoming celebrations complete with ribbon cuttings, high-profile locals, an army of volunteers donors and hometown celebrity chefs Greg Reggio of Tastebuds and Tommy Cvitanovich of Drago’s who were onsite with delicious cuisine.
Other participants included Absolute CSI, AFX Pro, Carey Limousine, Creative Coverings, Elias Events, Damselfly Designs, Event works, Event Source, Intellievent, Mardi Gras World East Bank, Mosaic Inc., R&F Fabrics, Rentals Unlimited, Signature DMC , Bergeron Freight Services, Hospitality Connects and SLK Creative.
Monetary donations were made by Social Butterfiles, Good Gracious, Someone’s in the Kitchen and Mike Davis and Associates.
For more information on Operation Outreach, please visit www.op-outreach.org.
Images by Lexie Cole Photography.