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New Orleans, LA. I spoke this week with Sallie Ann Glassman who told me how proud the New Orleans Healing Center (NOHC) is to present an “Evening with Joan Rivers” next month in their facility.  “Uncensored.  Unscripted.  Unpredictable.”  How could I imagine anything else?  “This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ benefit performance for us and a rare opportunity to see the legendary comedian in such an intimate setting.  And the show is already completely sold out!


Sallie Ann is exceptionally interesting as she is an American Vodou priestess.  Going back and forth to Haiti regularly for over a decade, I count many Haitian Vodou priests among my friends, but I had never until today spoken to an American one.  She told me:

Joan and I bonded over Ghost-busting in her New York apartment.  We hit it off right away and she attended my wedding last fall.  She offered to do a benefit for our Community Center as my wedding gift!

After our conversation and googling on-line, I have to admit I am very impressed with the New Orleans Healing Center.  It seems unique among community centers in that it was specially created to help, heal, and empower surrounding neighborhoods on a civic, social, economic, environmental, intellectual, and spiritual level.  Cool, no?


I learned that at its core it consists of a cooperative grocery, street university, yoga studio, green business incubator, healing arts collective, performance theater, interfaith center, and organic food restaurant.  But more importantly, these and other carefully selected community-focused programs, services, and activities are designed to help revitalize and restore neighborhoods and bring them together.

The New Orleans Healing Center’s Anba Dlo Halloween Festival rivals great events in New York City. Photo courtesy of Alexei Kazantsey. Copyrighted 2001 by Alexei Kazantsey.

Much more than just a physical building, the New Orleans Healing Center is a pioneering concept that provides both the framework and guidance for individuals and communities to help each other and themselves.

Joan, who is no slacker when it comes to social responsibility, wants to help.  She gets it and she acts – and she has the power to act in a big way.  She is known as a force of nature and one of the hardest-working celebrities in the world.

Colorful, joyous fun every year at the New Orleans Healing Center’s Anba Dlo Halloween Festival. Photo courtesy of Alexei Kazantsey. Copyrighted 2001 by Alexei Kazantsey.  

An entertainment legend of unparalleled accomplishment and talent, she’s among other things an internationally renowned comedienne, Emmy-winning television talk show host, Tony-nominated actress, best-selling author, playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic company entrepreneur, red carpet fashion laureate, businesswoman -- and most importantly, a proud mother and grandmother.  Whew!

Joan Rivers is a true pioneer: she has created her own brand of irreverent, unconventional comedy and forged her remarkable rise to stardom in the entertainment world.  Enduring humiliation and deprivation for nearly a decade playing tawdry clubs, Borscht Belt hotels, and Greenwich Village cabarets her career skyrocketed in 1968 when she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  She soon made television history as the first sole guest host of The Tonight Show.  She once quipped, “I was insanely persistent.”

Grand Opening ribbon cutting ceremony for the New Orleans Healing Center.

My own connection to New Orleans is interesting.  After the Tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, I created Orphans International Sumatera (OIWW) there on a small campus complete with a health center outfitted by our friends at the International Rescue Committee (IRC).  Our doctors there, Muslim women, were phenomenal.  After Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, they insisted on coming to repay the favor and they were among the only foreign doctors in New Orleans Fourth Ward.

Our famed “Tsunami Docs” of Indonesia were on the ground after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Orphans International Worldwide.

Joan’s unique gifts of humor, compassion, and tenacity have enabled her to work effortlessly.  She serves as a board member on behalf of God’s Love We Deliver, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation.  She also dedicates her time to Guide Dogs for the Blind, among others.  Joan Rivers embodies class, confidence, and chutzpah in all the right proportions, and her accomplishments are extraordinary.  I congratulate her for her support of the New Orleans Healing Center.

The newly-renovated New Orleans Healing Center – adding much to the re-birth of New Orleans.

new 4
New Orleans Healing Center
2372 St. Claude Ave. New Orleans, La 70117

Anba Dlo Halloween Festival
Saturday, October 20, 2012, The New Orleans Healing Center

See Stories by Jim Luce on:

Health   |   Social Responsibility   |   Women’s Issues

The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( is the umbrella organization under which The International University Center Haiti (Uni Haiti) and Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) are organized.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nice. There is one celebrity who walks the walk (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes, cv lurking gf

    If I ever get down to NO, I'll have to check it out

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 05:25:33 AM PDT

  •  Food Desert (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cv lurking gf

    The Healing Center is in my neighborhood and I am a member of the food co-op.  It has made a huge difference in what became a bit of a food desert after Katrina dealt a fatal blow to our major grocery store.  We didn't have a good source of fresh produce other than 'Mr. Okra' and, well, he is what he is.  The biggest store - Mardi Gras Zone - is certainly entertaining and the quality IS improving but the selection of produce is very limited.  Otherwise you are stuck spinning the wheel at a corner store unless you want to take a motorized field trip.

    Having a place to purchase a variety of good, fresh produce has greatly increased the quality of life for me.  I found out about the benefit too late to get a ticket.  Bummer.  And good on Joan Rivers.  Now I have to send her a thank you note.

    Meet me in Cognito, baby

    by out grrl on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:18:11 AM PDT

    •  The Healing Center and the Co-op are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      great, and good neighbors. I went to the garage sale they had raising money for the women's center destroyed by arson. More people should know about them, and this helps.

      I did see ground breaking is this Monday for the St. Roch Market - Upper Ninth is sprouting!

      "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken, 1925

      by cv lurking gf on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:42:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Benefit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cv lurking gf

        Hey - I went to the benefit as well.  I wonder if they ever sold that wedding dress?  

        What is going in at St. Rock market?  I have heard everything from a seafood market to a touristy type foot mall.  It is such a beautiful building and anything to improve that section of the upper ninth is much appreciated.  Great to see things improving on BOTH sides of St. Claude.

        Now, about that street car line ..

        Meet me in Cognito, baby

        by out grrl on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:47:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's a link to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          out grrl

          an article about it in NOLA Defender. I bookmarked this the other day after reading about the camel and ostrich races in August at the Racetrack. Gotta check a site with important information like that!

          "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken, 1925

          by cv lurking gf on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 11:57:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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