Supporting the City: Sankofa Community Development Corporation
The Sankofa Community Development Corporation was founded by Rashida Ferdinand with the support of Lower Ninth Ward residents in 2008. Sankofa has funded and created many projects aimed at serving communities in that neighborhood. Rashida and Sankofa are committed to creating equity and justice through community organizing, development, and education in the spirit of her ancestors and elders who have been models of resilience and strength.
The Sankofa Food Pantry offers three different food and meal-assistance programs through Second Harvest Food Bank. Sankofa presently operates three days of fresh produce markets (including one mobile market stop in the Lower Ninth Ward), weekly healthy cooking and gardening classes, monthly community program planning sessions, 24,000 square feet of urban farms, a weekly fresh food pantry, a market SNAP Match program, and SNAP enrollment services.
On March 13th, the Optimists worked alongside the Sankofa team in their monthly wetland cleanup. Volunteer Optimists arrived bright and early, donning masks and work gloves, with the goal of creating a walking trail through the Sankofa Wetland.
We shoveled mulch into wheelbarrows, transported it to the trail, and took care to evenly spread it, working alongside a team made up of college students, corporate volunteers, and individuals interested in bettering the environment and neighborhood. After several hours of hard work, we had created a beautiful trail along the wetlands for the community to use.
After Katrina decimated New Orleans East, Sankofa partnered with the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board to earn a grant to develop the Sankofa Wetland Park. Their goal is to create an outdoor space where the community can relax, exercise, and gather among the local flora and fauna. As an added bonus, the wetlands are able to hold excess rainwater to prevent future flooding of the neighborhood.
In addition to the accomplishments that came from our time spent volunteering, our team left with a sense of pride and understanding of New Orleans East, an area of the city that some of us had not even visited prior to our volunteer day.