Microsoft Convergence Conference Brings Volunteers Together to Help Rebuild New Orleans

REDMOND, Wash. — March 14, 2013 — To many people, New Orleans is synonymous with jazz, Louisiana cuisine and Mardi Gras. To Habitat for Humanity, one of the world’s largest nonprofits and a Microsoft Dynamics customer, the lively city is home to many families and neighborhoods still struggling to rebuild areas affected by the Gulf oil spill, Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Katrina. The organization is doing everything it can to provide the region with much-needed relief — and Microsoft is getting involved.

Raising the Roof
Volunteers attending the Microsoft 2009 Convergence conference carefully place the first roof frame on a new house in Musicians’ Village in New Orleans.

Next week, Microsoft employees, customers and partners from around the world will travel to New Orleans for the annual Microsoft Dynamics Convergence conference. On March 18, before the convention networking begins, more than 400 customers, partners and Microsoft employees attending Convergence are teaming up with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, Hike for KaTREEna and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center to frame two new Habitat houses. They will also plant 200 trees in medians and streets within the Gentilly/Seabrook community; build a fence surrounding a one-acre area that is the future site of a community sports field; landscape several neighborhood homes; finish a senior lounge inside the Hope Community Center, while also building shelving for the center’s food pantry; repaint a number of indoor areas and paint a mural for the gymnasium; and paint the fence of a nearby park.

Jim Pate, the executive director of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, said new housing remains one of the nonprofit’s biggest needs.

“It’s been seven years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, destroying 10 times more homes than any other natural disaster in U.S. history. We have the opportunity to help those affected get back on their feet — starting with giving them shelter,” Pate said.

This is the second time Microsoft has collaborated with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in its rehabilitation efforts since the catastrophic storm. The first took place in 2009 in Musicians’ Village, where volunteers worked on six houses dedicated to preserving the musical culture and heritage of New Orleans, while also spreading nearly 5,000 cubic feet of sand to complete an irrigation project. This time, Microsoft volunteers will extend their efforts to include a number of activities, all focused on neighborhood revitalization.

New Orleans Habitat for Humanity has built or rehabbed 557 homes, organized volunteers to gut over 2,400 homes, and welcomed help from volunteers on more than 285,000 instances.

Supporting Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers attending the 2009 Microsoft Convergence conference work on new houses in Musicians’ Village in New Orleans.

“New Orleans Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to help families feel empowered to transform their own lives,” Pate said. “New Orleans Habitat for Humanity wouldn’t exist without volunteers, and each person’s contribution makes a lasting impact for local families.”

Since 1996, Habitat for Humanity has used Microsoft Dynamics NAV to manage its global activities and progress by tracking materials and resources to build and refurbish homes. Streamlining these important logistical processes is a crucial factor in boosting the amount of support Habitat for Humanity can provide to communities around the globe.

Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 600,000 houses around the world, sheltering more than 3 million people in more than five continents and 3,000 communities worldwide. Microsoft Dynamics NAV has provided the organization with a flexible solution that helps its employees manage all steps in the supply chain, such as processing donation dollars and handling shipments by land, air and sea.

The home-building and community center work on March 18 is just one way Microsoft will contribute to the ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans next week. As part of the company’s broader sustainability commitment, Microsoft focuses on minimizing Convergence’s environmental impact by working with the Convention Center to donate leftover food to local food banks, as well as donating leftover event supplies and materials to local organizations and schools. Microsoft will also donate $1 to the NOCCA Institute for every attendee who completes an evaluation form during the event.

Several other volunteer opportunities will take place on site during Convergence:

  • On Monday, through The Birthing Project Baby Shower, Microsoft volunteers will package baby supplies for low-income families.
  • Tuesday is Fuel for the Future day. Microsoft Convergence attendees will package bags of food to distribute to children to bolster the weekend diets of those who sometimes go hungry when they don’t receive school lunches.
  • Wednesday brings the chance for volunteers to assemble hygiene kits for the New Orleans Mission and Ronald McDonald house in partnership with World Vision.
  • On Thursday, conference attendees will finish their offsite volunteer project by constructing and painting a large sign for the Hope Community Center.

Convergence attendees can join Microsoft
in providing assistance to the New Orleans community by donating time and money to Habitat for Humanity, World Vision, American Red Cross, UNICEF and other notable organizations using Microsoft Dynamics to achieve their missions.

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