Project Fleur-de-lis™ a program of Mercy Family Center, is a school-based mental health program, designed to provide long-term care and recovery for children and their families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Through a partnership with schools, local health and human service agencies and national experts, the mission of Project Fleur-de-lis™ is to empower students, teachers and parents of New Orleans area schools to recover, renew and restore in order to inspire healing throughout our community. Project Fleur-de-lis serves public, public charter and religious affiliated schools in the Greater New Orleans area. Project Fleur-de-lis™ is a Community Treatment and Services (CTS) Center within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). Grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), $1.4 million for funding 2008 – 2012.


Project Fleur-de-lis™ Testimonial
By: Cheryl Ostrowski

We are a military family with five children who moved to Belle Chasse, LA in May of 2005. Our three oldest children started school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in early August and immediately our first and second graders had a bit of difficulty adjusting. It was hard for them to be the “new kids” in a non-mobile community. And then things got really interesting……

We evacuated for Hurricane Katrina arriving in Houston, TX on Saturday morning August 27, 2005. The children’s father, a helicopter pilot and first-responder, went back to New Orleans after a few days to help with the hurricane recovery efforts. After a week in Houston, the kids and I drove to Boston, MA to stay with my parents where they attended a public school for the next two months.

We returned to Belle Chasse at the beginning of November, 2005. Thankfully, our house sustained only wind damage and we were able to move right back in. This time, the kids had a fairly easy transition back to school in Belle Chasse, partly due to a number of other “new kids” now displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

We first noticed a change in our oldest daughter’s behavior in the summer of 2006. Susanna was 8 years old at the time and began to have difficulty sleeping, especially if there was a threat of a thunderstorm or any wind. She switched bedrooms because she complained that the wind was too loud at night. She asked for a room without windows and slept cocooned in the covers with many stuffed animals around her. She also complained of daily headaches and stomachaches, became very moody, and had frequent outbursts of anger.

Prior to this time, Susanna had always been a straight “A” student but her grades began to slip. She started making a lot of careless mistakes at school and her teacher remarked that she seemed “stressed”. At that point, I asked the school counselor for help and she referred us to Project Fleur-de-lis™.

As a result, Susanna and I began to meet weekly with John Hill, a licensed clinical social worker at Mercy Family Center in January 2007. At this time, Susanna began to open up and talk about her feelings. She shared that her fears had started after Hurricane Cindy went over our house (I spent the night with her in the closet – her greatest fear was that of a tornado). As part of her treatment, John recommended that Susanna keep a journal and over the next 3 months she made remarkable improvements.

Susanna has once again become the cheerful, energetic child that she was before our move to Belle Chasse. She hugs her Dad and me all the time. She sleeps better at night and her storm fears have disappeared. Her grades are back to the straight “A” level. She is confident and calm, and the stomachaches and headaches have disappeared.

Susanna and John decided to conclude their weekly sessions in early April and she continues to do great. We will be moving out of state this summer and Susanna is upbeat and positive about the move. We are so thankful that Project Fleur-de-lis™ was available to us. It has made our family life so much better. I have nothing but praise for Project Fleur-de-lis™ and the staff at the Mercy Family Center, especially John Hill. Thank you all so much for giving us our lovely daughter back!

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