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CHALMETTE, LA - Laticrete Chairman/CEO David Rothberg and his wife, Nan Birdwhistell, the former First Selectwoman for the town of Woodbridge, CT, teamed with son Jason Rothberg, one of his classmates at Amity High School and their nephew, to answer President Barack Obama’s call to help rebuild New Orleans, a city still recovering four years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Rothberg and Birdwhistell, now a lawyer in the Municipal Law Practice Group at Martha Cullina LLP, their son Jason Rothberg, his fellow sophomore classmate and friend Eliot Demelier and nephew Avi Meadow of Weston, CT, have made a noteworthy impact on the lives of Katrina survivors in New Orleans. The Rothberg-Birdwhistell family and team volunteered with the St. Bernard Project (SBP) after Obama mentioned the project during his weekly address last August. Obama discussed the fourth anniversary of Katrina and the recovery efforts in New Orleans, singling out SBP as an effective post-disaster recovery model.
The Rothberg family group worked together doing mold remediation on the home of Gregory Williams who lives in New Orleans East, an area severely devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Much of the once-vibrant and close-knit community has not been rebuilt nearly four-plus years after the storm. The Rothberg-Birdwhistell family group met Williams and listened to the story of the incredible trials he endured because of his love for his hometown and his strong desire to return with his family and start anew.
“The degree of determination and sacrifice exhibited by Mr. Williams to return to New Orleans and reclaim his hard-earned home was profound indeed,” said Birdwhistell. “He was separated from his family for two years after he returned to New Orleans to re-gain a job and to protect and begin repair efforts on his home. For four months, he drove four hours a day roundtrip to his job in New Orleans, from where he lived with his daughter in her home in Baton Rouge. He lived alone in New Orleans for another year and six months in one rented room with a public bathroom down the hall, while he did initial home repair work. Finally, he earned enough money to bring his family back to a rental unit in New Orleans. When Williams fell off the roof of his devastated home while working alone making repairs, the St. Bernard’s Project stepped in to help.”
The Rothberg-Birdwhistell group also did carpentry and painting for a home in Meraux, LA, that was nearing completion.
Rothberg said he and his wife decided to volunteer because they wanted their son and his friends to experience the satisfaction and recognize the importance of giving back and helping others. They wanted to be a part of New Orleans’ recovery, and in doing so, they and other volunteers made a lasting impact on the lives of Gregory Williams and his family. “We really encourage other families in our area to take a family trip together to help St. Bernard Project,” said Rothberg. “Ours was a very rewarding and fun experience to share together, and I am sure would be likewise for others.”