Hard Work in the Big Easy
Friday, December 21, 2007
By Cindy Cantrell
The Boston Globe
December 20, 2007
Nathan Rothstein learned firsthand of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina when he volunteered on the Gulf Coast during spring break from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in March 2006. While he likened the wreckage in New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss., to a war zone, Rothstein said he was equally amazed by the residents' resilience. "It was shocking to see that citizens of this country were left to fend for themselves, even after they had paid insurance and taxes all their lives," said Rothstein, who graduated from Lexington High School in 2002. "Even after I came home, I couldn't get it out of my head. I had to do something to help."
Back at college, however, Rothstein couldn't find an organization connecting people to job and volunteer opportunities in New Orleans. After graduating that spring, he turned down a job with the Democratic National Committee, joined AmeriCorps, and returned to New Orleans. He cofounded the Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals initiative, which provides mentorships, classes, events, online networking, and other resources. Its success, according to Rothstein, is due to cooperation between the city's races and cultures, and between its longtime residents and newcomers.
Now a resident of New Orleans, Rothstein was recently named to the 10th annual "40 under 40" list compiled by the New Orleans-based Gambit Weekly, honoring people under 40 years of age for exceptional contributions and potential for improving the community even more. "It's an acknowledgement that what I'm doing is productive, but I represent just one small piece of the rebuilding effort," he said. "This is only the beginning."
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