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Ward "Mack" McClendon

Ward "Mack" McClendon

A New Orleans local who, against the odds, built the only community center in the Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina.

A New Orleans native, proud grandfather and former telephone technician, McClendon launched the Lower Ninth Ward Village, a neighborhood center to bring his community together in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In an effort to distract himself from the destruction of hurricane, he had decided to lease a nearby abandoned building and transform it into a garage to restore old cars. But when he walked into the space -- at 1001 Charbonnet Street -- he began to envision a very different use for it and created the Lower Ninth Ward Village. The center opened in 2007 and now offers literacy, job training and apprenticeship programs; provides recreational services and community meeting space; and serves as a focal point for residents returning to the neighborhood.