Karen’s many interests and talents have charted a course for her over the years. From publishing community newspapers to community relations, selling advertising to reviving a neighborhood bar, Karen has always used her creativity, energy, and drive to make a living and enjoy life.
Karen lost her home in Little Woods during Hurricane Katrina. She returned to New Orleans, living in a FEMA trailer for three years until her trailer tested positive for high levels of formaldehyde and she was encouraged to find a new home. She had heard of Nazareth Inn prior to the storm when running a bar on Chef Menteur Highway, and when she began looking for an apartment in earnest, she visited Nazareth Inn. Karen secured the paperwork, put things in motion, and was one of the first residents to call Nazareth Inn home, post-Katrina.
It was Christmas week when Karen moved in, and one of the new residents hosted a party. The party inspired Karen to bring residents together for other events and occasions. This led to the formation of the resident’s association.
“One of the men helped me. He ran for president; I ran for vice president. I had been on boards of many different things through the newspaper, but not a resident association,” said Karen. “So we started up and we really did well, and had a lot of fun. That’s when I realized, that’s what I’m here for. I really felt like God sent me here because I had stuff to offer,” expressed Karen.
With her passion for arts and interest in crafts, Karen started a Craft Club that makes decorations for parties and holidays and the Ladies Club which hosts a monthly luncheon. In addition to the luncheon, the Ladies Club also runs a small store located in the Nazareth Inn lobby as a convenience for residents, many who are in wheelchairs and prefer not to ride the public bus. Karen manages the store and purchases the items for the store.
“It’s all volunteers. It’s just little things that you might need –soft drinks and frozen items,” said Karen. The store is open to residents six days a week and an example of Karen’s initiative and desire to bring her community together to help others.
“At first it was just something to do, but it really is something that is needed,” said Karen. It’s become something worthwhile and we’re really proud of that.”