As we opened the doors to the Vermont Food Bank last week, it seemed too perfect that not only were we greeted by familiar faces, but there were volunteers covered in paper mache getting ready for the 21st annual Mardi Gras parade in Burlington. There was so much Vermont and New Orleans connectivity, that we knew we had chosen the right time to come for a tour and learn more about the process of their food distribution and new initiatives.
We were happily overwhelmed by the organization and reach of the Food Bank. We were impressed by the new programs that increase distribution of vegetables and nutritious food, and their new methods of providing access to food insecure families and children. We walked back out into the sun more inspired to help minimize hunger in Vermont and know that the support that has been given or will be given in Jamie's name is making a difference for many families.
We even got a peak of the "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" that we are sure looked delicious when it was finished!!!!
Here are some photos from fun events at the Alvar Public Library in New Orleans this last year.
November 7th, 2015 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Alvar Public Library. Celebrations will take place at the Library that evening with poetry readings and lawn games.
We're always proud and happy to support the library. Get out there and read a book!
The Lilac party is a standing tradition for Jamie's family. Dedicated to the beauty of spring, the Jamie Kanzler fund sponsored this year's party in memory of Jamie. Friends and family shared poetry and song in his name, sharing their favorite memories with him and remembering the weight of his presence. We were humbled by variety of generous donations, and look forward to increasing our engagement with youth and arts advocacy this coming summer.
The Alvar Public Library enjoys many fans in the New Orleans community - including Ashanti, the library's security guard. Here are some photos from last week's storytime!
The plants at Jamie's Memorial Garden are taller than ever thanks to all of the rain! If April showers bring may flowers, soon the whole garden will be in bloom. Soon, the garden will also be getting new milkweed seeds in order to hopefully draw some butterflies! Stay tuned for more updates!
Jamie's garden sits in a well-lit corner of the land surrounding the Alvar Public Library. When they have programs outside, Jamie's garden serves as a pleasant addition to their games, little festivals, and other outdoor fun. Here are some new and old pictures of the garden, a reminder of its purpose -- to support the New Orleans community and library patrons in a meaningful and memorable way.
Spring is in full swing down in New Orleans! Thanks to the dedicated gardeners at the Alvar Public Library, the seeds in Jamie's Garden have continued to grow into healthy little seedlings. Here are some beautiful pictures of the garden from the library staff!
Planting has begun in New Orleans, which is hard to imagine from our snow covered New England landscape. We hear that the cucumbers are doing particularly well. This beautiful vegetable and flower garden in memory of Jamie is an amazing space to find peace, inspiration, and excitement. We look forward to updates as the garden grows.
At the age of three, Jamie announced that he wanted to learn Japanese. After a long search Janine found Hisako. And after an even longer time, Hisako agreed to teach little Jamie Japanese. The lessons lasted for over 12 years and Jamie's sister Mary took separate lessons as well. We don't know what we would have done without Hisako and her husband Frank in our lives. Here they are in her garden surrounded by beautiful poppies, daisies, and lupines.
Last Saturday the Alvar Library hosted a Wetland Express program by the Audubon Institute sponsored by the Jamie Kanzler Fund where participants learned about the creatures and natural spaces of New Orleans. The library wrote,
"We had a total of about 24 people attending. We had a beautiful owl and a terrapin, as well as a big bullfrog and a small alligator. Everyone, all ages, enjoyed themselves! Before the folks from the zoo came for the program, we of course had kids in the library, so we planted daffodil bulbs in our garden bed in the front. We had a good time doing that, and we will have lovely daffodils in the spring. We will put out a sign that says "Jamie's daffodils."
What an amazing day! We look forward to seeing Jamie's daffodils in the spring.
Recently we received in the mail the Fall 2014 Putney Post which is the publication the Putney School puts out twice a year. In it is an incredible piece in honor of Jamie written by his dear friend and classmate David Cook as well as a poem written by Jamie. Thank you David for your moving words.
As of November 4th, we have donated to several new funds! We chose funds based on causes that we feel Jamie would have thought to be important, inspiring, and wide reaching. This month we have supported the Vermont Foodbank BackPack Program because as we all know Jamie loves backpacks and food, so this one was a no-brainer. We gave to the Coutts-Moriarty Camp's Long Paddle Program because although we know that Jamie wasn't a great fan of the water, we feel he would have liked this program because it involves both building a canoe and adventuring in it with a group through Vermont's unique waterways. Also, because it is almost impossible to pronounce. We gave to the Essex County Natural Resources Conservation District because Jamie and the Rose Hill cats loved climbing in trees and hiding in bushes. We also are cognizant of how important it is to continue the efforts of conservation in the greater Vermont area. Finally, we gave to the Spectrum Youth and Family Services Domestic Violence Solutions program because Jamie always believed that men should be kind, sensitive, and loyal to their partners and we hope that this program will promote and reinforce those values.
For more information on the specific programs, click here!
We recently visited New Orleans on September 27 to mark the day of Jamie's passing. While there, we visited the Alvar Public Library in the upper Ninth Ward. This is where Jamie took out books, used the WiFi, and volunteered helping children with their homework. Jamie showed Janine the library the day before he passed, and therefore we feel that this is a special place where he should be honored. At the library there is a corner in the children's section that honors Jamie. Recently, we have used private funds to purchase audio-visual equipment, books, necessary furniture, and snacks for the children that visit the library. When Janine initially visited the library she did not go inside, so this was the first opportunity for her, family, and friends to see the work that has been done there. The head librarian Desha discussed with us future programs that would be really helpful to the library. They include a program with the Audubon Institute which manages the New Orleans zoo and aquarium and offers many outreach opportunities. One program in particular involves bringing creatures from the swamp to the library, and this is something we feel Jamie would have really enjoyed.
Also, we are going to participate in a program called Garden To Table in which the children will help build a raised bed and plant vegetables according to the specific season. We are sure they will have fun harvesting the vegetables and enjoy the "fruits" of their labor. The library has no need for extra books at the moment, however they would appreciate it if we could contribute each month to their Head Start program, in which children are given a book to take back home with them. Currently, they give out 160 books each month to the children of the community. This is similar to the CLiF program in Vermont and New Hampshire that we are also helping to fund.
A Little About Us
Jamie was always trying to find ways to help others.
This fund supports a variety of projects that Jamie cared about, in ways that remember his distinct style and colorful sense of humor. We are directly donating to the Alvar Public Library, Jamie's Bookplate Project, and facilitating partnerships with the Vermont and New Orleans Food Banks.
Keep checking back here for updates on how all this is going.
Here's what we've done so far:
- Catalogued many of Jamie's books.
- Given a beautiful library couch to Alvar Public Library in New Orleans, projector, screen for community events, and lots of books that Jamie loves. Also, outdoor furniture—chairs and an umbrella to the garden outside the library.
- Ongoing talks with CLiF, a children’s literacy foundation through which we are identifying a town in Vermont where we will support their library.
- Vermont food bank, New Orleans food bank—donating money for different food initiatives.
- And our dream — The Ham Boy Express — a refrigerated truck that will transport food to hungry people in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.