Burnell Cotlon’s story of opening the Lower 9th Ward Market
This past week I had the opportunity to go on one last mission trip with my youth group at First Baptist Church Georgetown. It was for graduated seniors only, allowing us to spend one last week all together serving Jesus before we went off to college. We worked really hard throughout the week— we put in fence posts on an empty lot in the Lower 9th Ward, worked on a farm that provided jobs for adults with special needs, organized school supplies and hung out with kids at an inner city after school program, and spent two days painting the inside of an inner city church. We were also able to do some fun activities on our time off. God taught us a lot throughout our week in New Orleans, and we were all thankful for the last week we were able to spend together.
While we enjoyed serving at all of our worksites throughout the week, our first work day was perhaps the most eye-opening. The Lower 9th Ward is the section of New Orleans that was hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina. Every building, except one, was wiped out by the hurricane. Ten years later, very little restoration has occurred here. Burnell Cotlon served as an MP 95 Bravo in Frankfurt, Germany who grew up in New Orleans. Upon returning to the States, Hurricane Katrina hit the area, and his house was destroyed just like everyone else’s. He was able to rebuild but quickly noticed that he didn’t have any neighbors in the area. As he drove around, he realized that the Lower 9th Ward lacked a grocery store. The closest one was a Walmart in the next city, requiring someone to take three city buses in order to get there if they did not have a car. Rather than relying on the local government to solve their problems, Cotlon took it upon himself to make a difference in his neighborhood and begin rebuilding the area himself. He purchased the one and only standing building in the area and used his entire life savings to transform it into usable space. Ten years later, his store is still the only grocery store in the area. Please watch the video below to hear his story.
Burnell Cotlon has big dreams for the Lower 9th Ward, and he is working hard to rebuild his city and make the lives of the people living there better. He was so kind to us as we worked on the empty lot across the street, and his story really moved those of us on the trip. If you would like to send donations or even a letter of encouragement to Burnell, please send to:
2036 Caffin Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117
Please keep Burnell, his family, and the city of New Orleans in your prayers as they continue to rebuild after the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Please share this post and video as well! 🙂