For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 9, 2007
Remarks by the First Lady to the Press Pool After Lunch
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY TO THE PRESS POOL
New Orleans, Louisiana
1:12 P.M. CST
MRS. BUSH: We just had a really delicious lunch here at Caf Reconcile. This is a caf that I've been wanting to come to on one of my trips to Louisiana. Today, fortunately, I had the chance to. So I got to not only have a delicious lunch of fried catfish and greens and okra, but I also had the opportunity to hear the stories of the people who are behind me, of the people who founded Caf Reconcile and who have worked with young people for a number of years, and then of these young people who now have jobs at hotels or restaurants or are working here full time. They have -- Donna Bowie, the director here, has a great eight-step program for young people, for young people to know if you have a job, you need to be there on time, you need to work all day, you need to be there all day, paying attention all day. And all of these are skills that anybody who wants a job needs to know.
And I want to thank them for their work with young people, for all the many, many employers that are here in Louisiana and all along the Gulf Coast, that because of tourism really need people to help, people to work, both in restaurants and in hotels, and that's a great thing.
And then the new part of Caf Reconcile is the construction part of it. Nolan has started here -- where is Nolan? Is he back here? Here he is, right here, Nolan English. Nolan actually came down to Louisiana to volunteer, came from Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife. After they saw the images of the hurricane, they wanted to come here and volunteer. And as it's turned out, he's working here now, and training more young people in the construction jobs. And we know that there's a huge demand for construction jobs. And also construction jobs pay very well. So it's a great way for people to be trained. And Arianne here is going to be an electrician. She's in the construction part. And so she's worked to become an electrician.
And I want to congratulate every one of these young people for turning their lives around. A lot of them just came back to Louisiana after having to go off to other states after the hurricanes, and now they're back home, and they have jobs either here or they're in the program here or they have already moved on through the program and have jobs in hotels and restaurants here.
We had a very nice stop this morning at one of the 40 new schools that have just received grants from the Laura Bush Foundation across the Gulf Coast -- one school from Texas, Port Arthur, Texas, and one from Pensacola, Florida. All the rest of the schools are Mississippi and Louisiana schools that lost most of their libraries in the hurricanes and are now ready to restock their libraries. These schools have rebuilt and are ready to add to their libraries. And that's really fun and moving for me to have the chance to meet with these school people from all up and down the Gulf Coast who have worked so hard to rebuild their schools, to make sure their students can come back and move back here and have a school to go to when they come back.
And then from here, we're going to go on to the Louisiana Children's Museum. They've developed a special program with advice from counselors on ways children can be counseled or be helped through the trauma that they suffered because of the hurricanes, by doing different activities at the museum. They have play acting and journal writing and a lot of ways that children can work through the trauma of the hurricanes, and families can also work together to heal after the hurricanes.
So I want to encourage people in the New Orleans area, if your children -- if you think your children might need some help, this would be a good place to spend a Saturday afternoon with them, to draw the pictures and talk about and write the stories about what happened to them in a way to try to come to terms with what happened with the hurricane and then to put it behind them and move on.
Every time I come, I'm encouraged. Every time I come, more debris is gone, more construction is started. Certainly the schools are a very, very good example of the rebuilding here in Louisiana and all the way across the Gulf Coast. I want to encourage and I hope that the state will continue to work with the CDBG grants so that more people can make the determination of what they're going to do with their houses, whether or not they're going to rebuild or redo -- restore their houses.
So I just want to say once again that I'm really happy to have the chance to spend today here. And I want to encourage people -- I know how wearying it is. It's a long time, it takes a long time to rebuild. And I know, as people drive up and down the streets, if you're here all the time, you don't see what I see; when I only come every once in a while, I can see real steps of recovery. And I'm encouraged by that, but I also want to try to encourage people to keep working.
And it's going to take a long time, but it will happen, and New Orleans will be rebuilt, and people that want to come back will be able to come back. So thank you all, and God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 1:18 P.M. CST