I have been part of this community for many years having grown up in and around the New Orleans area and the Northshore.
For the past 5 years I have been working as a Catastrophe Adjuster in natural disaster locations around the country, helping families rebuild their lives. Having done this, I understand what a difference it makes to be properly prepared for a quick deployment of resources during a natural disaster.
Having lost my home to Katrina when I was a child, I know the pain and heartache of such devastation. After Katrina I volunteered at the First Baptist Church and Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Slidell, where out of the kindness of strangers, my family and I received food and clothing. This has taught me the value of serving others. In high school I volunteered at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, where I started learning just how fragile our ecosystem is in Louisiana.
After high school, I went to college until I could no longer afford to stay. It was after this I attempted to join the Air Force to serve my country. During Basic Training it was discovered that I have asthma and I was subsequently given an Honorable Discharge.
During my time in Basic Training and the medical holding training squadron they have there, I fought to make sure the trainees there could read more than just the Bible or the Field Manual. I also fought to make sure that we had access to the courses taught by the Community College of the Air Force, as well as occasional base privileges, and adequate telephone privileges to call our loved ones. Having come from a military family and having had most of my friends join, not being able to serve was quite a blow.
Both my parents were in the Navy and my brother was in the Coast Guard. On my mother's side, her father was a Marine and her step-father was in the Army having both fought in Vietnam and both receiving Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Continuing on my mother's side, we have, as it seems, a military tradition going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. This gave me a deep sense of duty to others.
Afterwards I went to work with my father in the construction industry, doing everything from sweeping floors and knocking down walls to eventually building my own house. This then led me into being a Catastrophe Adjuster.
My father, his brothers and his parents all came to this country from Canada when he was a child. My grandfather designed ships and they moved around for some time going from shipyard to shipyard until finally they settled here on the Westbank, where my dad grew up and stayed until joining the Navy and eventually meeting my mother in Ohio.
My parents settled down here and when I was growing up, I spent many of my summers in Quebec, Canada with my extended family who would tell me stories about the days when they lived in Africa and always encouraged me to travel. Because of this, I developed a fondness for travelling and experiencing other cultures and I worked very hard in order to satisfy that sense of wanderlust.
Throughout my travels I have seen many things that other places are doing really well that should be implemented here in the United States and Louisiana. I have also seen extreme poverty and realized how blessed we are to live in this country. I was fortunate to play soccer with and read to school children in Nicaragua. I met with a women's entrepreneur group in Nicaragua that makes reusable grocery bags, handbags, and purses out of discarded single use plastic bags that wash up on the shore, saving the sea turtles and environment one plastic bag at a time.
I sat in temples in India and Bali, being blessed to experience their cultures and helping to make offerings of rice and flowers. I have even been to mosques in Qatar and India and met some of the kindest people I have ever met there. All of this gave me a deeper respect and appreciation of Louisiana and its people, because we truly are a melting pot.
We take in people from different cultures, religions, races and backgrounds, and we bring them into our family and then we have a party. But when the times get tough, as sometimes they have, that's when Louisiana really shines, not because of the politicians helping us but because we come together as a people no matter what is going on or how divided the rest of our country is, to help our family.
When the Floods of 2016 hit, I left my job in Atlanta where I had been working for a few months. I loaded up my truck with supplies and drove straight to Louisiana to come help. I drove as far as I could, driving through flood waters to try to help rescue people and deliver supplies to whoever needed them. I didn't leave until the waters receded. I felt that these people I didn't know needed someone to help them, the same way my family needed help 11 years before.
The people of Louisiana are some of the kindest and most resilient people in the face of adversity, and they deserve so much more from the politicians of this state. And that is why I am running for Congress. I want to give the people of the 2nd Congressional District a person in office that they deserve. A person that is willing to help and is ready to do the hard work needed to figure out the issues and what can actually be done to fix them.