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New Orleans – September 2012

Our Largest Service Project Ever Is Now Complete!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

We’re back from New Orleans and the largest OmnicomCares service project ever undertaken is a great success. Words cannot describe what the volunteers accomplished in one day, so be sure to look at the before and after photos as well as our amazing video.

The playground, pavement games and picnic tables with games painted on them are magical and will make playtime more fun for the children. The colorful murals do more than brighten the hallways and exterior walls, they offer inspiration and spark the imagination. And in addition to all of that, OmnicomCares installed 80 computers in the classrooms to help teachers educate and prepare these children for life.


More than 400 volunteers from Omnicom, the school and the surrounding community showed up ready to work and they did an amazing job. But as the children lined up in front of the playground for the ribbon cutting ceremony, it was evident that they were the real stars of the day. All the volunteers pulled out their phones to take photos of the children in front of the playground. As pointed out by Dennis Hewitt at the kickoff, “today was not about building a playground, painting murals or installing computers … it is about the changing the lives of children in the community.”

Johnson Gretna Park Elementary Principal Beth Wren said, “Every day when the children come to the playground, they will be reminded that strangers they have never met love and care about them. Most importantly, they will know that you believe in them.”

Thank you to everyone who worked to make this project a great success, and a very special thank you to the many sponsors who made the one-day makeover possible.

Prepping the Playground, Marking the Murals

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Our team arrived in New Orleans yesterday, and we wasted no time heading over to Johnson Gretna Park Elementary to prepare the site for the new playground we will be building, murals we will be painting and  80 computers we will be installing this  Saturday.

The school just reopened today following Hurricane Isaac. Fortunately the school suffered only minor damage. The children are all smiles here, making this project all the more worthwhile.

KaBOOM! Is prepping the playground site and making good progress. They have obviously done this before, having already outlined the area over which we will be spreading 7,000 pounds of  material.

Four artists from  Zimmerman in Fort Lauderdale are showing off their tremendous artistic skills, etching out the two murals we will be painting. Max Barrios, Carlos Rancano, Laureen Biruk and Oscar Alonso are supremely talented. The final product will be a great addition to the school.

Carlos visited with the school a few months ago to get their input on the artwork. The inside mural, 100 feet long x 11 feet tall, is an interpretation of what learning at the school is all about: reading, studying, music and culture symbolized by a trumpet player and a fleur de lis, the symbol of New Orleans. The outdoor mural will span two walls and reflects the transition from elementary school to college.

We can’t wait to see all the volunteers Saturday. You can get in the #NOLA mood by tweeting your favorite things about New Orleans. Please use hashtag #GretnaKaBoom .

Sept. 8 and Counting: New Orleans Playground Build

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends all along the Gulf Coast as they brace for the effects of Isaac.  We are thinking positive thoughts as folks from Florida to Louisiana weather the storm.

We are still planning on building a magnificent playground on Saturday, Sept. 8 at an elementary school just outside New Orleans at Johnson Gretna Park Elementary School, located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, about 20 minutes from downtown.  The school doesn’t have a playground so our project is especially exciting for them. We worked closely with the school and the students on the design, making sure the playground meets the needs the students.   We’ve partnered with KabOOM!, a non-profit which has built over 2,100 playgrounds and over 150 this year.

If you haven’t taken the time to learn about KaBOOM!, we encourage you to take a look at their website.  Their mission is to “Save Play” for our kids.  Having a safe, fun place to play within walking distance creates stronger, happier, healthier children, and has big impacts on surrounding communities as well.  We at Omnicom are delighted to be able to help KaBOOM! in this important work – and besides, building a playground is just plain fun.

Take a look at what we’ll be building in New Orleans in just over a week:

The kids at the school are just about bursting with excitement.  They can’t wait for us to get started – so Omnicom playground builders, get ready!

OmnicomCares Returns To Where It All Began

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Five years ago OmnicomCares completed its first-ever service project in New Orleans shortly after the city had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. On September 8, 2012 we will return to complete another exciting project in the New Orleans area, this time at Johnson Gretna Park Elementary School.  And we are once again teaming up with KaBoom!

Johnson Gretna Park Elementary School has been providing an academic environment that promotes high expectations for all students to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens since 1958. In addition to its school-day programming, Johnson Gretna Park Elementary provides activities both before and after school in addition to opening up its facilities to children or other local programs and organizations, including the Boys Club and Girl Scouts.

The school serves 610 students in grades pre-K to 5, 94% of whom qualify for reduced price or free lunch. The school’s previous playground equipment was more than 15 years old and had to be removed due to mold and deterioration following severe storms.

This year’s “to do” list includes:

  • Construction of a state-of-the-art playground
  • Renovation of the school yard to include picnic tables, a shade structure and playground games
  • Installation of new computers in the school
  • Painting of two beautiful murals at the school, designed by the Zimmerman Agency

After completing more than a dozen projects across the globe, we’ve come full circle in our ongoing commitment to help local communities provide safe, clean and fun places for children to learn and play. We look forward to seeing you all in New Orleans!