NOLA Grannies Project Visits the Uptown JCC

Published Sunday, December 2, 2018

Whether they answer to bubbe, yaya, nana, mamaw, or something else entirely, all grandmothers seem to have one thing in common: they refuse to tolerate anything or anybody messing with their loved ones. And that’s just what a group of ten grannies from New Orleans did when they heard about trouble at the border for families seeking asylum.

Joyce Thomas was among the ten who traveled to Texas. She said, ”There was just an inner ‘knowing’ that I had to go and see for myself if even a fraction of what I was hearing about the conditions down there were true.”

Fellow “granny” Cynthia Sheridan said, “My experience provided me with valuable insights that allowed me to reframe the plight of young families leaving everything to save their lives, putting their story into the context of U.S. citizens fleeing Katrina, or raging forest fires, or flash floods. It also made me aware of specific, concrete actions I could take to make a difference at home.”

When the group returned, they formed the NOLA Grannies Project. They began collecting supplies and assembling care kits filled with non-perishable snacks, toiletries, and water. Since starting this effort, the NOLA Grannies Project has supplied more than 2,000 care kits to individuals released from detention centers at the border.

Thomas said, “Although the symbol of a granny may be a little old lady rocking in a chair, y'all got that wrong! Get outta our way cause we know from a life-lived that the days go by darn quick, so you gotta get on it now, whatever ‘it’ is!”

The JCC recently hosted this hard-working group in our board room, which they transformed into an efficient NOLA Grannies Project assembly line. JCC members had the opportunity to pack care kits that will be delivered directly to individuals in need.  

Sheridan said, “When we told our story at the JCC event, the attendees' questions, comments, and tears filled me with gratitude that there are many others who share our horror and who are strongly motivated to help. This is exhausting work, but every single person who joins the effort makes it feasible to continue until we are no longer needed.”

For those interested in joining their cause, there are several ways to help:

  1. Help distribute care kits to recently released asylum seekers traveling through New Orleans at the Greyhound Bus Terminal.
  2. Produce care kits to be distributed the following week.
  3. Purchase items from the group’s Amazon Wish List

When reflecting on their work and what others can learn from the project, most of the grannies share the same sentiment as Thomas: “This is not about being a Granny...anyone can do what we are doing. Anyone can make the decision to trust in who you are and what you believe. Anyone can act with kindness and from the heart.”

For more information or to get involved, email the NOLA Grannies Project directly at


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