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Delaware North Companies Applauds Progress in Habitat for Humanity Project

Wall-raising ceremony signifies new start for New Orleans family

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Feb. 26, 2008) –Delaware North Companies participated in a Habitat for Humanity wall-raising ceremony on Feb. 19 as part of the continuing effort to rebuild New Orleans post-Katrina. The event unveiled the framework for one of two houses Delaware North has sponsored and will assist in building and introduced volunteers to the family that will call the house their home.

A global leader in hospitality and food service, Delaware North announced its partnership with Habitat for Humanity and its commitment to the project on the first anniversary of the Katrina hurricane in 2006. A year later, Delaware North and Habitat volunteers have turned that dream into a reality by concentrating on construction plans and implementing a work schedule. 

“We are incredibly proud to be helping Habitat for Humanity build these homes for these wonderful families,” said Wendy Watkins, vice president of corporate communications for Delaware North Companies global operations. “Habitat for Humanity is playing such an important role in rebuilding New Orleans. We are honored to lend our support and our volunteers to such an important cause.”

New Orleans natives Edward and Melody Ross, who lost everything they owned because of the disaster, will become the proud homeowners once construction is finished. The couple said they considered themselves very blessed to have been selected as part of Habitat’s housing project. The Ross will work with volunteers for the next two months to build the home alongside their two daughters and grandson.

“At the ceremony, they talked about what a journey this has been for them, and expressed their appreciation and thanks for all of the sponsors and volunteers who are helping them make this possible,” said Bob Marye, development and church relations coordinator of the  New Orleans Area chapter of Habitat for Humanity. 

Joseph Taylor, general manager of Delaware North’s food service and retail operations at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, attended the event to honor the work of the family and the volunteers. He was joined by other Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services staff from the airport, including William Cade, airport unit controller, and Donna Davis, airport department manager.

“It was important for my staff and I to attend to represent the company and show our pride and appreciation for the contribution Delaware North is making to help rebuild this area,” Taylor said. “The most important part of the ceremony was meeting the family who will eventually live in the house. They had a wonderful spirit and determination, which will only further contribute to the success of the area and efforts to rebuild it.”

With operations at the airport and the operator of the Delta Queen Steamboat at the time, Delaware North witnessed firsthand the devastation that left many New Orleans residents homeless. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, more than 1,000 Delaware North associates were directly affected.

As a result, Delaware North and its associates at its many operations around the United States immediately responded to the crisis by establishing Delaware North Companies KARE (Katrina Associate Relief Effort), a foundation designed to assist affected Delaware North employees with their immediate needs, including shelter, food and clothing.   

Donations poured in from Delaware North’s associates, partners, suppliers and even customers, with the company matching donations dollar for dollar.  In total, the company raised more than $300,000, which was distributed to impacted associates, the Habitat for Humanity and the New Orleans Kids Café. Kids Café is part of a nationwide program sponsored by Second Harvest, one of the nation’s largest hunger-relief organizations. 

In addition to KARE, the company prepared in excess of 25,000 meals for refugees and relief workers housed at the airport during and immediately after the storm.

“We were so glad Mr. Taylor was present at the wall raising ceremony,” Mayre said. “He spoke about how happy he was that the company decided to invest in this project, and indicated he was looking forward to having volunteers from Delaware North be a part of the construction process.”


CONTACT: Kerry Hassen –