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The Tesla Community Helped Feed Over 150 Baton Rouge Families Affected By Hurricane Ida

It was day 2 without power when I was sitting with Mrs. Green, who is my landlady. We were sitting in the shade by her home across from her store, Owens Deli, which has been a fixture in our neighborhood for over 80 years. During the days of segregation, her parents served the Black community as a deli and grocery market. The house next to it where one of my neighbors lives now is the house she grew up in. The house behind it where I live is where her granddaughters grew up in.

This area neighborhood is known as Valley Park and has had its ups and downs through the years. On one end of the street is a drug-ridden homeless camp that lives under the I-10 bridge that separates our street. On our end, an area that is on a hill, is Owens Deli, and behind us is an elementary school. In our part of the block, there are mostly families with children and elderly who Mrs. Green serves. She is well known throughout the community for her kind heart and willingness to help others.

Twice a month, she feeds the poor in our area. Sometimes it’s jambalaya and a piece of bread, other times it’s gumbo or some type of hot meal. Although her store isn’t a grocery store these days, she runs a small catering business which took a hit during Ida. The heat index value soared to 109 degrees that day. Gail from the Austin Tesla Owners Club called to check on me. I had no power, no internet, and very spotty cell reception. The idea of raising funds to help Mrs. Green feed our neighbors was sparked in that call and Gail offered to spread the word.

Since I was unable to get online, we opted to use Malissa’s PayPal to receive the donations. Malissa is one of Mrs. Green’s daughters and helps run the family business. Gail asked how much we needed and Mrs. Green and I looked at one another, unsure. “Maybe $100, but $1,000 or even $2,000 would help a lot,” she said.

While dealing with spotty internet that was trying to come online over the next few hours, I tried to set up a GoFundMe, but the app wasn’t working. Malissa has Verizon, which was the only cell service provider that was affected by the communications outage that hit Baton Rouge when Ida arrived. Then John with Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley stepped in and offered to help by setting up a GoFundMe.

When I finally got power, I had messages from other members of the Tesla community who wanted to send funds to me directly. So we had two PayPals and a GoFundMe that people were pouring money into. Altogether, I think we raised over $8,000 for our community. The bulk of it went to the GoFundMe and we planned an event that took place earlier today as I write this (9/11/21).

The funds covered $4,000 in Walmart gift cards for basic necessities, a hot meal, and cold water. The hot meal was catered by Mrs. Green, who later told me that she hoped to get the store back to the way her parents had it — as a grocery store.

Most of the money that was given to me went to help friends in the area who were affected. One friend’s home was destroyed, so I made sure she had funds for food. Another friend had no food in her fridge, so we met up at Albertsons and I told her to get what she needed. There were others who I was able to help — and yes, I took care of my own needs as well. I refilled my fridge with healthy foods and helped neighbors out. When I’d see a TikTok post of someone who was hurting and needing help, I Venmo’d, Cashapped, and helped as many as I could. I may never meet them, but I know the pain of having nothing and not knowing where help will come from.

Louisiana always takes care of its own, true, but we also help others. I remember when I was a kid and my mother, who was homeless, ended up in Shreveport. Strangers took us in, fed us, and helped her secure a job. To me, Louisiana has always shown kindness to those in need. Yes, we have both our good and bad people, but as Elon Musk once advised, I look for the good. There’s always more good than bad, however visible the negative may feel.

The people of Louisiana are the most resilient, kindest, and strongest that I’ve known and I think this is where I get my own strength from. We survive hurricanes, homelessness, intense hot weather, and other issues. We know how to come together, rebuild after disasters, and make it to the next day.

I think that what most people here in my area weren’t expecting was help from Tesla community members. I explained the mission of the Tesla owners club programs that are throughout most of the states to so many people today. Louisiana doesn’t have one yet, but hopefully one day.

I spoke to an East Baton Rouge Parish school principal today who had family from LaPlace staying with her. LaPlace was one of the hardest hit cities that Ida practically destroyed. She had a special message for the Tesla community. If you notice the street behind her, there’s debris from the storm. All of our streets have debris on them.

She described LaPlace and other areas hit by Ida as a war zone and explained that there is still no power. “We really appreciate everything that you’ve done to help the community move forward.”

You may remember Cole Davis from my other articles last year when we were trying to get ventilators to our hospitals during the beginning of the pandemic. Cole recently became a Tesla owner and dropped by to give some of Mrs. Green’s family the Tesla experience. Malissa, her young son Brayden, and two other granddaughters, Ariel and Monica, all got to share an incredible experience.

Malissa also had a special message to the Tesla community for helping our community through this trying time. “Thank you for your donations. Everything that you’ve done for the community; we were able to serve over 150 people with food as well as a gift card so we truly appreciate you. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

Around 1:00 in the afternoon, we ran out of hot meals, but there were still plenty of gift cards, so we passed those out to people who came. The family plans to give the rest of the gift cards away and I told them to use the money for themselves as well — after all, they are a huge part of the community and you can’t help others if you don’t build yourself up first. Fill your cup, then pour. I’m not sure if they will listen to my advice, because they are the good-hearted souls who would give all they can to those in need before thinking of themselves.

 
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Written By

Johnna Crider is a Louisiana native who likes crawfish, gems, minerals, EVs, and advocates for sustainability. Johnna is also the host of GettingStoned.online, a jewelry artisan and a $TSLA shareholder.

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