Monday, September 18, 2006

Tune into Oprah Wednesday!!!!

This segment is going to air on Oprah Wednesday! It was taped not far from my house.

Giving Love a Good Name
Rock star struts down local street

HOUMA -- Jon Bon Jovi said south Louisiana's hurricane victims share an agony unknown to anyone else, but he's doing what he can to help.The rock star strutted down a local street Sunday afternoon to hand-deliver house keys to 18 families who will move into homes built through a $1 million donation he made to Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network after Hurricane Katrina. The musician's visit gave residents of the Bayou Blue community's Bon Jovi Boulevard an unexpected chance to personally thank the roadway's namesake for their new homes. "I didn't expect him to come," said Angela Graham, who plans to move her family this week into her Bon Jovi Boulevard home. "It was good to hug him and tell him thank you and let him know how grateful we are."The band Bon Jovi and the nonprofit Angel Network worked with Bayou Area Habitat for Humanity to sponsor 28 homes in the Bayou Blue community. The homes are going to hurricane victims, including those from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. "You put a face to the devastation and you see the desperate mothers, fathers, and grandparents, and you want to make a difference," Bon Jovi said. "I'm a firm believer in actions speak louder than words."

The rocker visited the Bayou Blue neighborhood this weekend to tape a segment to be aired later this month on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Staff with the Angel Network said the exact air date hasn't been determined yet. The show willfeature Bon Jovi surprising local families with their house keys.The families live on Bon Jovi Boulevard, which seemed to please the rock star, said Jeanne Autin, executive director of Bayou Area Habitat."I think he was honored and privileged to have a street named 'Bon Jovi Boulevard,' " she said.A street in Bon Jovi's hometown of Sayreville, N.J., also featured his name, but the roadway was eventually renamed after too many street signs were stolen, he said.The rocker walked the local street Sunday in sunglasses, jeans and a black T-shirt, swatting at the steady stream of love bugs fluttering too close to his famous hair.Bon Jovi said the best part of his trip to Houma involved "meeting the people, putting the faces on my dream.""I think it was awesome for a guy to just give his money away to people who really need it," said Samuel Hall, Graham’s fiance. "It was just awesome to be able to thank him in person."Autin said the families showered the musician with gratitude."They hugged, they kissed, they told him, 'thank you,' they said, 'God bless you,'" Autin said.Graham, Hall and their three girls, ages 6, 3, and 1, have been living in a Thibodaux garage since shortly after Hurricane Katrina forced the family from their Kenner home."To have a home," Graham stressed. "I came out with so much more than I had before the storm." Her daughters are excited about the three-bedroom house, especially her oldest child "because she really understands," Graham said.Bon Jovi said he knew he could trust Winfrey to get his donation to those in need, and liked the idea of such a diverse pair working together to impact people's lives. A white, male rocker and a black, female talk-show host seemed about as diverse a team as possible, he said."I don't see skin color. I see people who need help," he said.As of now, there are no plans for Winfrey to visit the site, said Angel Network staff.The Angel Network neighborhood is part of Bayou Area Habitat's "Building Blitz on the Bayou," the group's campaign to build 100 homes in Terrebonne and Lafourche for hurricane victims by the end of this year. The organization has 54 homes completed or under construction in Bayou Blue, including the 28 sponsored by Bon Jovi and the Angel Network. The site, near the intersection of La. 316 and Bayou Blue Bypass Road, is one of Habitat International's first large hurricane-relief projects, said national Habitat leaders.As with any Habitat home, the families must pay for the homes and work a certain number of hours building them, Autin said.Ken Meinert, senior vice president of Operation Home Delivery, Habitat for Humanity International's hurricane-relief project, said the organization has 412 homes completed or under construction along the Gulf Coast in partnership with hurricane-affected families. The group plans to reach 1,000 homes by next year, Meinart said. Of Habitat's 20 hurricane-relief sites, "this is a real jewel," Meinert said of the Bayou Blue location. The site has drawn about 1,500 volunteers so far, with out-of-state and foreign teams receiving critical help from local groups."The local support means so much to us," he said.The community's residents, a mix of bayou folk and former city dwellers, seemed to have already bonded as neighbors, Meinert said."All of us are really a good community," agreed Hall.The celebrities not only sponsored the homes, but also furnished and landscaped them through donations made by the general public. They also landscaped homes sponsored by other groups. In addition, the Angel Network and the band garnered a sponsorship from Sprint that added a "first-class" playground to the subdivision, Autin said.Bon Jovi added he wants to lead by example. He said his contribution to hurricane-relief efforts spurred others to donate labor, furniture, and other items needed to complete the houses.Bon Jovi said he's made a number of tour stops in south Louisiana, but couldn't recall if he had ever visited the Houma-Thibodaux area. When asked if he'd sampled the local cuisine and culture, he replied, "Many times, of course I have."The toughest part of his visit here?"The love bugs, baby," he said, swiping at another pair of the pesky insects.

1 comment:

  1. That's really interesting. I'll be at work on Wednesday and although they repeat it at night; it's shown again at 11:05 pm and there's no way I can stay up that late and still be able to function at work the following day. I love the photo montage of Valerie. She is getting so big. Do you plan to find out if the baby is a boy or girl?