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It has been a new beginning


Deanna Narcisse (right) is a waitress at the Waffle House in downtown Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and she is a vocal advocate for Gulf Coast recovery efforts.


Deanna Narcisse, 34, is a waitress at the Waffle House in downtown Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The restaurant is a popular community gathering place, and Narcisse is a vocal advocate for Gulf Coast recovery efforts in general and Habitat for Humanity’s role in particular.

“I am always telling people about Habitat,” Narcisse said, laughing. “I really hate to say, ‘Thank goodness for the storm.’ But I wouldn’t have this house otherwise. It has been a new beginning.”

Narcisse and her two children—son Devon, now 18, and daughter Deara, 15—had to live apart for months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their rental home.

Deanna lived with relatives and then in a FEMA trailer, but she had to send her children to Lafayette so they could attend school immediately after the storm. Since March 2009, they have lived under one roof, in a Habitat home that has become a popular after-school hangout for her children and their friends.

“There are so many things they could be doing, getting in trouble,” Narcisse said, sitting on the front porch of her home while half a dozen teenagers lounged around the TV set inside. “I don’t mind them all coming here every day if they want. It’s a good, safe environment for them.”

Narcisse’s son, Devon, is a straight-A high school senior and a star on the school’s championship basketball team. He plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi and keep playing basketball.

Daughter Deara, also a good student, is manager of her brother’s basketball team.

All three are happy to be back to normal, reunited in one place.

“This is something I never thought I would have,” Narcisse said of her house. “I just really enjoy coming home.”