UNITED STATES AIR FORCE/SAINTS HABITAT FOR HUMANITY BUILD (4/28/09):
Construction is underway in developing the new Musicians' Village in the Lower 9th Ward through the efforts of Harry Connick, Jr, Branford Marsalis, and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH). The core site of the village will include 72 single-family homes and five elder-friendly duplexes which will be built especially for older musicians. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, members of the United States Air Force and New Orleans Saints players joined the cause, and helped build one of the houses in the village. Among those handy Saints helpers were Usama Young, Buck Ortega, Chris Reis, David Thomas/Tim Duckworth.aspx">Tim Duckworth, Leigh Torrence, and Saints Team Ambassador, Michael Lewis. The crew was mainly responsible for assembling the frames for the inner walls of the house and setting them in place according to the floorplan. As a refreshment to its community, the village will also have its own music center (The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music) as its centerpiece which will be dedicated to the education & development of the next generation of New Orleans Music enthusiasts and the preservation of the city's unique musical heritage, as explained by the NOAHH.
For more information regarding this project or for general information about Habitat for Humanity, visit www.habitat-nola.org.
WEDNESDAY AT THE SQUARE (4/28/09 & 5/6/09):
For the past two weeks, the Wednesday at the Square concerts have been graced with beautiful weather and energetic crowds. The attendance numbers at last week's concert were certainly escalated due, in part, to the number of people who were visiting New Orleans because of the Jazz & Heritage Festival. The soulful evening at Lafayette Square was kicked off by Marva Wright and the BMW's followed by Marcia Ball, where Rockin' Dopsie surprised the audience with a cameo performance while members of the Saintsations posed as his background dancers. Along with Saints Owner / Executive Vice President, Rita Benson LeBlanc & Saints Mascot, Gumbo, a plethora of Saints players joined the excitement including Leigh Torrence, Usama Young, Jahri Evans, Roman Harper, Garrett Hartley, Darren Sharper, Pearson Prioleau, Scott Fujita, and Saints Player Development Director, Fred McAfee. Chefs from the Ritz-Carlton provided the featured dishes for the day.
Not to be overshadowed by the previous week's festivities, the first Wednesday concert in May began with medleys by Shamarr Allen and his band. Saints players and executives, along with their invited guests, were served up hearty bowls of a specialty pasta by Pascal's Manale in the Saints corporate VIP tent. An on-stage grape-stomping contest provided a little foresight to the excitement that is to come at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience which is scheduled to take place in mid-May. News anchor Eric Paulsen & meteorologist Laura Buchtel competed in opposing pairs to see who could extract the most juice from a bucket of grapes while Saints Mascot, Sir Saint, pumped up the crowd and LeBlanc determined the final winner. Soon after, Big Sam's Funky Nation took the stage and closed out the evening's concert with their dynamic vibes.
This week's concert will feature Amanda Shaw & the Cute guys along with the Honey Island Swamp Band. For more information on YLC's Wednesday at the Square concert series, visit www.wednesdayatthesquare.com.
SAINTS PLAYERS VISIT MAGNOLIA ADULT SCHOOL (5/5/09):
The Magnolia School of Jefferson Parish hosted a pep rally on this past Tuesday in honor of the New Orleans Saints. The activity room of this non-profit organization (which is dedicated to serving adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities) was adorned in black and gold décor as the fun-loving students and caregivers welcomed several Saints players as they entered. Those players included Pierre Thomas, Usama Young, Zach Strief, David Thomas/Tim Duckworth.aspx">Tim Duckworth, Jon Stinchcomb, Jahri Evans, Jermon Bushrod, and Troy Evans who each signed autographs and posed for pictures with over 100 students who participated in the rally. As a token of their appreciation, the Magnolia School's students presented each player with a hand-crafted fleur-de-lis garden ornament, and entertained everyone as they danced a second-line to their favorite Saints-themed songs.
MICHAEL LEWIS @ McDONOUGH #42'S CAREER DAY:
Saints Team Ambassador, Michael Lewis, was the featured sports guest at McDonogh #42's Career Day last Thursday afternoon. The 4th-8th grade students gathered in the school's auditorium to receive words of wisdom from Lewis as he shared his life experiences with them. The students were impressed with Lewis' determination to become a professional athlete, although his journey began with a humble upbringing. Coming from a similar background, the students were able to relate to Lewis' obstacles, but were encouraged to know that despite any hindrance that may present itself, there is still a chance to have a successful future if they are persistent and dedicated to achieving their goals. The students also took part in a brief Q & A session and afterwards, one student (who has recently learned to play the saxophone) entertained the audience with a musical performance. Winners of the Saints trivia session received an autographed photo by Lewis and all of the students were given Saints pencils as a reward for good behavior during the visit as well.