Beacon of Hope

Beacon of Hope’s logo focuses on it’s commitment to housing and construction projects. Photo by Beacon of Hope Resource Center.

Beacon of Hope is a non-profit organization in New Orleans. Initially opened to provide aid to New Orleans’s residents after Hurricane Katrina, Beacon of Hope has become more than just a Katrina recovery organization. Volunteers, the backbone of the recovery process, help improve and rebuild the lives of New Orleans’s residents through different kinds of service projects, such as home repairs, debris removal and cleaning the city, civic beautification, and many more. Situated in the heart of the city, Beacon of Hope’s address is 145 Robert E Lee Blvd, Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70124 (“Contact.” Beacon of Hope. Beacon of Hope has a number of different “Beacons” or resource centers around the New Orleans area with affiliate Beacons existing outside of Louisiana.


On February 14, 2006, Denise and Doug Thornton formed the Beacon of Hope Resource Center (“Our History.” Beacon of Hope. The Resource Center, which was first run out of the Thornton’s home, quickly became a hub of information for residents of New Orleans. Dedicating their time and efforts in helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina, Denise and Doug provided internet and phone service, served food six days each week, and held seminars to address city issues. Beacon of Hope became a place where residents could meet up and start discussing plans to rebuild their lives. For her efforts, Denise Thornton was awarded the “Women of the Renewal Award” in 2010. (“Nell Nolan Social Scene: Parks and Socialization,” The Times Picayune, June 12, 2010). The recovery model that Beacon of Hope follows can be tailored to fit any neighborhood. More community leaders, such as the Thorntons, began to open up resource centers in New Orleans as news of the Beacon of Hope’s progress had spread. With eight resource centers in New Orleans within the first year of operations, Beacon of Hope teamed up with affiliate organizations from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Bridge City, Texas to aid residents affected by natural disasters.

Working Towards Progress

Beacon of Hope’s mission is to provide  “a model for recovery in neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina as well as other areas affected by disaster” while also “encouraging civic action, fostering repopulation, providing information and resources is the foundation on which we build and grow.” Furthermore, they state that “Beacon of Hope empowers residents to facilitate their own recovery while providing a hub of resident driven activities and a safe environment to create the synergy essential for restoring viable neighborhoods and improve the overall quality of life for residents”(“Our History.” Beacon of Hope.

Programs and Involvement

The Beacon of Hope offers a wide array of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can sign up whenever and choose to play a vital role in aid and recovery. The goal is for the volunteer programs to provide a meaningful volunteer experience for those that participate. The Beacon of Hope plays host to a range of volunteers from individuals to groups of volunteers from churches, corporations, schools, and organizations. There is no age requirement to volunteer, and volunteers can chose from a variety of different projects to participate in. The Homeowner Projects greatly benefit the residents of New Orleans that have been displaced from their homes due to natural disasters or expense issues. Beacon of Hope helps revitalize these houses through painting, landscaping, remodeling, and light repair. The Vacant Property Project allows volunteers to clean up abandoned homes and assist with debris removal. The Civic Beautification Project provides residents with a clean, pleasurable environment. These projects take place at parks, community gardens, and playgrounds. In 2011, Beacon of Hope came out with an app for iPhone that tracks housing properties to “report and track complaints” about abandoned or rundown houses (New Orleans Looks Online to Combat Blight,” Government Technology, February 10, 2012,

Economic and Cultural Impact

Denise Thornton once said about the New Orleans’ residents, “The people who live here are overwhelmed,” which is why her organization, Beacon of Hope, follows a recovery model that has successfully proven to educate volunteers and train residents to help create a better, safer, and cleaner environment (“GA Participants Head to the Lower 9th for Service Project,” The Jewish Daily Forward). The Beacon of Hope’s M.O.D.E.L is the abbreviation for Mapping, Outreach, Development, Engagement, and Leadership. Mapping allows volunteers to address the concerns and needs of residents by extracting data on mapping results. With a clear outline or map of issues, the Beacon of Hope’s volunteers can bring up these community needs to local governmental agencies to fix the problems. Volunteers involved in Outreach address the needs of residents and help connect them with the tools and information needed to resolve their issues. The Development aspect of the Beacon of Hope creates beneficial projects that lead to improved city development. For instance, the Harrison Avenue Marketplace, established in 2007 by the Beacon of Hope, was set up to support the seventy-five local companies and vendors along the Harrison Avenue corridor (“About us,” Harrison Avenue Marketplace, The Engagement part of Beacon of Hope brings neighborhoods together by teaching residents to become active supporters for their communities. Beacon of Hope allows individuals to feel proud of their communities through its service-learning projects. Lastly, the Leadership aspect lets individuals stand up for their neighborhood and motivates others to come together through city meetings and events. Beacon of Hope is not alone in its work: similar organizations like Harrison Avenue Marketplace, United Way, Build Now Nola, and Habitat for Humanity also strive to improve New Orleans and help its people.


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