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Dominican Peace Center plants seeds for health

Over the past two years, the Dominican Sisters of Peace who run the Peace Center on Broadway Street have been building trust, confidence and relationships with the residents of the Broadmoor, Gert Town and Fontainebleau neighborhoods.

The efforts of Dominican Sisters of Peace Suzanne Brauer, Patricia Thomas and Ceal Warner to improve the quality of life in the area have included adult computer classes, monthly group meetings for seniors that draw about 25 individuals for lunch and bingo, tutoring and holiday parties for neighborhood children, reading encouragement for all ages, twice-annual job enrichment programs, counseling and spiritual direction and even referrals for legal advice.

The awarding of a $2,000 grant from the Catholic Health Initiatives afforded the Dominican Sisters of Peace the recent opportunity to provide another community service – a free event on Aug. 6 that included voter registration, handing out first-aid kits and health information. Free snowballs from NOLA Heat Retreat also hit the spot considering temperatures neared 100 degrees.

“All of our programs help people emotionally and spiritually,” said Sister Suzanne. “We got the idea to hold the event because everybody needs a first-aid kit, especially now with the approach of hurricane season.”

Sister Suzanne said the sisters went door to door to promote the event, which doled out approximately 60 first-aid kits.

The League of Women Voters’ board member Barbara LaFleur and the president of the Orleans Parish League of Women Voters Rosalyn Cook manned a voter registration table and were the two necessary persons to verify each registration.

Shortly after the afternoon event opened, Norman Perkins stopped by the table and registered. He discovered how easy it was to complete the process in just a few minutes. 

The league will mail all completed forms from the drive, and told registrants about the clerk of court’s office and how to find out the precincts where they can vote. They also mentioned the ease of registration online.

“We can assure anyone with concerns about voting and make it easy,” LaFleur said. “You don’t have to have a paper and pencil form. It is that easy.”

Regulars came out
Barbara Bruce, an active senior at age 68 and life-long resident of the area who returned in 2009 after Hurricane Katrina, said she attends everything that is held at the Peace Center. She had been a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

“It’s been real helpful,” she said of the services offered at the Peace Center. She has attended a concert and decided to go to the event to get a first-aid kit and snowball.

Sister Suzanne knew several who attend the monthly senior meetings would come out, and, several endured the heat to participate. One was Peace Center monthly senior meeting attendee Carolyn Grow.

“It’s nice because you meet people,” Grow said about the Peace Center. “That’s what I like about it, and I get to find out what’s going on.”

Susan Todd, with the 504 HealthNet, manned a table to get the word out about where to go and get care through the recent Medicaid expansion. She was proud to announce that 70 percent of individuals eligible for benefits through the expansion have registered, representing 260,000 people in Louisiana. The 504 HealthNet emphasizes primary care and behavioral health services.

“I find going to these events is helpful,” Todd said. “People come here and get information and find out about what they need to apply and where to apply. We give a lot of education to people about where they can go to get care if they are uninsured.”

The Peace Center recently partnered with St. Vincent de Paul’s Sister Lory Schaff Adult Learning Center at 2601 Canal St. in New Orleans for its job enrichment program.

“We’re really trying to reach folks who need help in finding a job,” Sister Suzanne said. We teach how to write a resume, how to look for a job and how to present themselves professionally, and each person has a mentor. … We know jobs are critical to a person’s well-being.”

Sister Suzanne, in a recent blog on the Dominican Sisters of Peace website – – says through the Peace Center she is living out her charge as a Dominican sister “to build peace, to preach peace and to be peace.” She sees it happening in  the center’s activities as well as during outreaches during walks and prayer services in New Orleans conjunction with other organizations.

“We have made a start, but there are just so many more needs to address,” Sister Suzanne said. “I do believe God is directing this and will continue to challenge us in the next steps we should take. In all of our activities, we desire to foster the great gift of peace, which I know the world needs so badly right now.”

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