High Voltage is a Louisiana nonprofit providing intergenerational programs to support their community’s youth and senior citizens. Winn-Dixie has supported this organization through the Community Bag Program.
Tell us about High Voltage.
High Voltage is a volunteer organization founded in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2003 to provide educational and recreational programs for disadvantaged youth. But just a year and a half later, we temporarily shut down when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. By 2008, we were able to start back up again with programs at the Sojourner Truth Community Center for youth and senior citizens.
Our mission is to provide intergenerational programs to support our community’s youth and senior citizens. We provide learning and recreation programs to the disadvantaged youth in our community to build character and realize their many strengths. Students enrolled in our programs are eligible for high school community service and college credits. Our programs also offer seniors activities to promote healthy living through wellness events.
What services do you provide to the community?
Our services include quarterly and holiday meals, health fairs and social leisure activities for senior citizens at various sites in New Orleans. For the youth in the community, we offer a summer camp and educational workshops. Of course, during COVID, we had to modify a bit. We were doing a summer take-home reading program called the DIY Summer Reading Camp, where we supplied books, schedules, prizes, pencils and paper. We boxed all the supplies up, and families would drive up to take them home.
We also do school supply giveaways. These items are generously donated, and we give them to students attending our Back to School Giveaways, homeless youth and kids in foster care. This year, we gave supplies to over 500 students. We host art workshops for children ages 3-12 and their parents or guardians. These workshops are a great way to unite people; they have been done in person and with take-home kits.
In recent years, we’ve done several programs related to disaster relief. During and after COVID, we got hit by so much. There were Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida. We accidentally became a volunteer agency aiding in disasters (VOAD) to benefit the hurricane victims. We’ve received thousands of dollars from Google and Microsoft employees and additional funding from Walmart to help the hurricane victims.
We accidentally became a volunteer agency aiding in disasters (VOAD) to benefit the hurricane victims.
In order to provide disaster relief to the hurricane survivors staying in hotels in New Orleans, we partnered with the American Red Cross, which handled housing and AmeriHealth Caritas of Louisiana to help distribute the donations. We also partnered with the American Red Cross for the Pillowcase Project following Hurricane Katrina. This is an interactive preparedness program for youth ages 8-11. The Pillowcase Project teaches students to understand natural hazards and how to cope safely and emotionally. Students learn skills on how to stay safe in an emergency. They are also shown how to create emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during a disaster.
So far, in 2023, High Voltage has provided a lot of donations to our community. We’ve given toiletries and slippers to over 100 seniors. And around 750 pairs of socks to the New Orleans community. We’ve distributed 120 cool kits to seniors to protect them in the summer heat, as well as 200 hurricane preparedness kits to the community. We are proud to be able to adapt and provide the essentials that our community needs.
Please tell us a story that illustrates your organization’s good work.
Hurricane Ida’s relief was so significant. The Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team and the Union Omaha Soccer Club partnered with us. They collected items at their baseball games and soccer games and sent over 42,000 pounds of supplies for the hurricane relief drive.
When the donations arrived, there was so much that they came in an 18-wheeler. The amount was incredible, but we didn’t know where to store it. We’re a small organization, so we had to contact our local community partner, HandsOn New Orleans, a high-impact service project organization, and the State of Louisiana, and they helped us by storing it in a warehouse with a loading dock; we had to get forklift drivers to unload it.
We gave away the relief in three different parishes, St. John, Jefferson and Tangipahoa parishes. People came and got diapers, toiletries, household items, nonperishable foods, batteries, items for rebuilding, you name it. This relief for Hurricane Ida was one of the most significant things we did. The state was able to offset the cost of the hurricane repairs with FEMA because of some of the donations. They went and priced out the relief items to get the value. This process was a huge operation for us. We are thankful for the assistance of our community partners, HandsOn New Orleans and United Way, who provided us with help to serve those in need of assistance. It was a wonderful experience to have all these organizations come together to help the hurricane survivors in New Orleans.
This relief for Hurricane Ida was one of the most significant things we did.
What do you want people to know about High Voltage?
We really care about the New Orleans community and want to improve the quality of life here. We are here to make a difference. High Voltage collaborates and partners with others in our community to increase our impact. Our number one goal is to have the services we provide genuinely make a difference in the lives of our community members.
We really care about the New Orleans community and want to improve the quality of life here. We are here to make a difference.
How will you use the funds raised from the Winn-Dixie Community Bag Program?
When we were selected for the Winn-Dixie Community Bag Program, we wanted to use the funds for relief support outside our community. That’s how we came up with the idea to use the money raised in this program to help the people in Ukraine. We donated to support World Central Kitchen and feed the people of Ukraine. World Central Kitchen is a hunger relief organization on the frontlines providing fresh meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises. They are on the ground in and around Ukraine, feeding refugees.
We want to help feed the Ukrainian refugees. When these families flee their homes, they leave with virtually nothing; a hot plate of food provides comfort and hope for the future.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We want to thank Winn-Dixie. Participating in this program helps the environment. That’s very important to our organization. It not only provides us with donatable funds but also allows us to promote the use of reusable bags rather than plastic bags, which are harmful to the environment.
Katherine Johnson is the Director of High Voltage.
Published October 3, 2023.