New Orleans Native Burnell Cotlon, A Beacon Of Hope In The Lower 9th Ward

Location and Background:

  • Heroes Among Us event presented by Navy Federal Credit Union in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • New Orleans, known for its great food, music, and nightlife.
  • Site of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 causing $160 billion in damage.
  • Nearly 2,000 residents lost their lives, many left homeless.
  • Bernell Cotlon, born and raised in the lower 9th ward, evacuated during the disaster.

Life Altering Events:

  • Bernell served in the Army before returning to New Orleans in 2001.
  • Hurricane Katrina led to Bernell leaving his job as a police officer to manage a local McDonald's.
  • Lived in a FEMA trailer for 3 years before deciding to rebuild.
  • Corporate America deemed the area a 'food desert' and was hesitant to invest.
  • Bernell's determination led to the opening of Lower Ninth Ward Market.

Challenges and Resilience:

  • After Katrina, the closest grocery store was three bus rides away.
  • Bernell faced obstacles from the city and corporations in rebuilding.
  • Lower Ninth Ward Market became a refuge for nearby residents.
  • Bernell's story attracted attention from notable figures like Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Bernell used his life savings to open the only grocery store in the Lower 9th Ward.

Legacy and Impact:

  • Bernell's work reflects caring, resilience, and hope for the community.
  • He emphasizes finding purpose in life and serving the community.
  • The grocery store stands as a symbol of hope and service.
  • Bernell's actions have inspired others to help and support his cause.
  • He is recognized as an everyday hero who met the needs of his neighbors.

Philosophy and Service:

  • Bernell believes everyone has a purpose in life beyond the mundane.
  • His transition from serving in the military to serving the community was natural.
  • He emphasizes the importance of service and finding one's purpose.
  • Bernell's dedication to his community and the grocery store is unwavering.
  • His story exemplifies the impact one individual can have on a community.

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