Social Outreach Partner: TakeCare Baton Rouge

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TakeCare Baton Rouge is an initiative of the Community Initiatives Foundation (CIF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Spearheaded by Sister Judith Brun, CSJ. TakeCare seeks to meet unmet needs of targeted communities in Baton Rouge. Since the flooding of August 2016, the mission expanded to help those in need, return to their homes as soon as possible. Partnering with Build SOS, TakeCare hopes to help those who lost everything, rebuild their lives and their homes as soon as possible.

History of TakeCare/CIF

Sister Judith was primarily and educator, but understood  that education alone would not create the needed changes for a healthy community in high-needs neighborhoods.  In 2006, she helped form Community Initiatives Foundation with the mission to research and address unmet needs.  

TakeCare is the current initiative and involves partnering with high-need neighborhoods to re-engage neighbors in the quality of life in the area with neighbor-generated goals of improving the environment, property and structures, reducing crime, and providing opportunities for all who live there, especially the children.  The most significant progress to date involves, in partnership with the Southern University Law Center, assisting neighbors to request the demolition of blighted properties, cleaning over-grown lots, purchasing adjudicated parcels and participating in the Mow to Own program.  With the assistance of SU law students, 27 neighbors were prepared to meet with pro bono attorneys at Law Day in the Neighborhood open successions, finalize their wills and secure power of attorney as needed.  

Members of the Neighborhood Council are positioned to secure legal status for their council.  Once that transition is solid, TakeCare will establish a child and family development center, Tommy’s Place, to assist in ensuring the children are better prepared for school and life success.  80% of children in this and similar neighborhoods begin school with at least one developmental delay, limiting the potential for success.  Relationships and interventions will reduce over 50% of these delays.

In August of 2016, the Baton Rouge experienced historic flooding resulting in 110,000 homes and businesses being damaged or rendered in need of demolition.  Friends and volunteers became the first responders for those who could not afford to rip out the damaged and molding walls and contents of their homes.

Along with community volunteers and those from Southern University Law School and athletes from both SU and LSU Sister Judith managed the gutting of 29 homes of neighbors who could not do this on their own, especially elders and families with young children.  Currently, the focus is in helping selected families to restore their homes and allow them to begin anew.

This experience coupled with the early work regarding property, blight and the lack of legal protection, gives Sister Judith a strong foundation in understanding the needs and challenges of neighbors with limited income and access to support systems.  Without some coordinated system focused on the recovery of these households, the flood will have not just damaged homes but will also ruin neighborhoods and compromise the future of our entire area.  

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