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Iberia Homeless Shelter provides second chance

December 12, 2017 GMT

There’s no organization in Iberia Parish working to give a second chance to the homeless like the Iberia Homeless Shelter.

Headed by Steven Etienne, the nonprofit has worked with the philosophy that homeless people looking to make a better life for themselves must work. As Etienne puts it, if you don’t work, you don’t say.

The Iberia Homeless Shelter is one of 10 organizations chosen by The Daily Iberian for its annual Help the Helpers program. The initiative aims to provide financial assistance to local nonprofit agencies that help the poor and needy during the holiday season.

The work has led to the IHS partnering with local businesses to place men at the shelter in jobs, and eventually scoring them a paycheck and the prospect of a future.

But in the past year, Etienne said the shelter is now working on a different task to place the homeless in homes.

The IHS is one of the only coordinated assessment certified organizations in Iberia Parish, meaning that any homeless other organizations come across have to be inputted and assessed through the homeless shelter. The program is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s goal of housing the homeless all across the country.

With a small staff, the IHS has had their hands full with the program. Not only that, but they are also continuing their mission of giving a bed to those without one. When the state of Louisiana gave an early release to thousands of inmates in November, Etienne said he had three stay at the shelter.

Some of the staff are made up of ex-homeless. Harold LaPorte was a drug-user for years until he had a second chance at the IHS. After working a job and leaving the shelter, LaPorte still stuck around the building on Robertson Street so as not to fall back to old habits. Now three years sober, Etienne says LaPorte is a vital asset.

“He’s my best worker,” Etienne said.

Cash or check donations for Help the Helpers can be taken to The Daily Iberian office at the corner of Main and Lewis streets or mailed to Help the Helpers at The Daily Iberian, P.O. Box 9290, New Iberia, LA 70562. Checks should be made to Help the Helpers. Contributions can be marked for a specific participating Help the Helpers nonprofit organization or can be divided among all 10. Donors’ names will be published by the newspaper in an Honor Roll listing.