On a hot, muggy day in New Orleans, Louisiana, RS&H Senior Tolls Technology Specialist David Raines led a group of volunteers to landscape a newly-built neighborhood. Together, they would provide veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a beautiful, calming environment.
Every year for the past decade, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) has organized a service project as part of its Maintenance and Roadway Operations Workshop, which helps a community within the city the conference is held.
This year, Raines helped organize the IBTTA Foundation Annual Service Project, placing a focus on veterans, which aligns with the IBTTA Foundation Veterans Initiative.
The project was open to all the conference attendees and garnered a turnout of more than 50 volunteers for the all-day event. The attendees helped construct a meditation grove, public library, vertical herb garden, and planted sod, trees, bushes, and plants for the Bastion Veterans Community.
“In conjunction with IBTTA staff, I went in late January and scouted several projects and different organizations that do other service initiatives,” Raines said. “Over the course of a few days, we interviewed a few different organizations and ultimately decided to help the Bastion community of veterans with PTSD.”
The community that had previously occupied the land was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago. The property was then purchased, and several duplex family homes were built face-to-face for veteran tenants to live in.
“This encourages the veterans to talk about issues they’re facing and how they’re coping,” Raines said.
The Bastion property currently boasts 38 residential units along with a Wellness Center and common areas. Seventy-three residents currently call Bastion home.
And it’s not just for the veterans. It’s a community that provides support for the whole family as they cope with the disorder together. With walkways in the middle and paths throughout, the layout is conducive to communication between neighbors.
“It was a great success,” Raines said. “When you know you’re giving back and someone really appreciates it, it definitely makes the effort worth it.”
And as for the team, Raines said no one was left with a clean shirt.
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