My background is in nonprofit administration and I have spent several years managing volunteers on service sites, particularly in the south and in regards to Katrina recovery. I recently spent a week working with college students at Common Ground Relief. I was largely disappointed with the lack of organization and respect for volunteers. We showed up in the morning when asked, but would spent easily 1-2 hours each day waiting for staff to eat, figure out the plans for the day, get the tools together, and finally get our students working to the appropriate site to begin working. At most, we would work 4 hours each day, despite our communicated desire to work about 8 hours most days. A majority of our work wasn't focused in the Lower Ninth, despite the obvious need there - although days spent working with partner organizations were the only days our students legitimately worked. We spent most of our time with Common Ground moving plants and repotting plants that didn't need it. We were largely unsupervised at Common Ground (which was fine considering the basic level of busy work we were asked to do), but if we were supervised, our site supervisor spent a large amount of time playing with his dog and rarely interacting with the volunteers - or even checking in with the students. I was also disappointed that Common Ground staff, in their introduction to their organization, bashed other local nonprofits trying to rebuild the community, using unfortunate (yet rectified) incidents from 2011 or earlier and blatantly lying, claiming these organizations never took responsibility for their actions, which is untrue. If you are looking to volunteer in the New Orleans community, I would recommend another organization while this one sorts through their transition nine years after Katrina, as exemplified by their decreased funding, extremely broad and unwieldy mission, and inability to manage volunteers.
Zorro has us confused with Common Ground, a New York based housing concern. Common Ground Relief, Inc. , a New Orleans based not-for-profit founded on September 5, 2005, is not involved in any way with the housing project that he describes. Please visit our website, www.commongroundrelief.org, for up to date information on what we are doing for the Greater New Orleans community.
Apparently school children are not a protected class of people because Common Ground has partnered with UNITY and the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership in New Orleans to place 42 junkies, alcoholics and transients across the street from John McDonough High School in New Orleans. The neighbors and parents of the children of the school have told them several times they do not want junkies, alcoholics and persons with crimial records across the street from their homes, church and school. The only focus Common Ground has is to increase the number of paychecks it can generate for its own organization. They place people who need a lot of support in a situation in which they have no real support.
Review from Guidestar