According to Mack McClendon, New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward community leader and founder of Save the Village, his campaign is more than just saving his own Louisiana community  from disaster; McClendon wants to “make sure that what happened to his community, doesn’t ever happen to another community again.”

McCLendon spoke to the Keene State College community on Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in the Flag Room of the L.P. Young Student Center. The Save the Village event was brought together by KSC’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) group.  McClendon, his team and many other volunteers around the country are making progress to create positive change. Contributing to the journey is KSC’s very own ASB program.

KSC brought Mack McClendon to campus to   speak of his experiences and his cause. Mclendon’s community, the Lower 9th Ward Village, was destroyed when the levees broke and wind damage ensued during the Hurricane Katrina storm in 2005. Nine years later, less than a third of the community is back.

A village that used to have seven schools for the children now struggles with one school teaching kindergarten through twelfth grade. According to McClendon, the students do not have sturdy classrooms, football fields or many other enriching opportunities at the school. The seniors attend class in trailers.

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor: Pictured is Mack McLendon, lower 9th Ward Community Leader, who told his story to the students who attended the Save The Village event.

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor: Pictured is Mack McLendon, lower 9th Ward Community Leader, who told his story to the students who attended the Save The Village event.

Members of the community shared their experiences post hurricane in a video that was played at the beginning of the event.

“I can’t tell my grand-kids that this is the playground I played on, this is the school I went to. I can’t tell them that, it’s gone,” one affected father said.

KSC aims to give every student the “wisdom to make a difference,” as written all over the KSC website. ASB does its part by helping students organize a week-long trip dedicated to helping others.

On these service trips, students “travel in teams, take part in service projects that address community needs, gain awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth and prepare for lives of active citizenship,” according to the Community Engagement at KSC program website.

KSC Senior Allie Bedell, one of the 2014 trip leaders, went down to New Orleans with a group of her peers to help Save the Village.

Bedell was exposed to the reality of the Hurricane Katrina disaster her freshman year at KSC, when she was assigned as a reporter for The Equinox to travel to New Orleans with an ASB group. Bedell said it was there that she fell in love with the cause, the community and most importantly, the people.

Coming back to campus, the ASB group members could not sit tight, according to Bedell. She said they had to do something and let others know about the tragedy they witnessed and to help in any and every way possible. “There is so much damage no one knows about,” Bedell said.

Claire Hickey, a sophomore at KSC, said “I didn’t know Hurricane Katrina was still a thing,” not realizing the damages that these communities are still dealing with. While Save the Village holds their immediate efforts to complete their project of making a community recreational center, this cause is a larger effort. McClendon said, “I don’t want another community in the world to go through what my community has gone through.”

He said he needs people’s help. With appreciation and love for those who have helped throughout their efforts of recovery, he said it is still not enough.

More care for the people is all it will take, if 20 percent of the country chipped in somehow. While donating money to organizations is helpful, unfortunately, in most cases, “less than ten-percent of disaster funds go directly to disaster,” McClendon said. He pleads for those with caring hearts to “follow your money,” to know truth about what is going on and how these disaster-struck communities are being helped.

There is an online kick-start fundraiser and many  other ways to donate and support the village on their website.

In the fall applications will be accepted for ASB trips to many different areas of the country.

McClendon continues to share his message and outcry for support and change saying “the most important one,” he said, “is the people.”


Ellie Marshall can be contacted at

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