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Discussing Life in Village de l’Est with Ed Blouin



Cheryl Gerber

Written by Kevin O’Sullivan
 

Ed Blouin has lived in Village de L’Est since 1978. He raised his two children, John-Michael and Patrice, in this small East New Orleans community alongside a true village of families and wonderful neighbors. And just as he’s seen his neighbors’ children grow to have children of their own, he’s seen the community grow, then shrink, then grow again.

“When the NASA center here closed, it changed the community’s dynamic. And then Six Flags came and went. They’re in the planning process of redevelopment of the Six Flags property. That should make things interesting,” said Blouin.

Blouin is a retired piping designer, drawing plans for Chevron for 42 years. But he hasn’t retired from his community in the East. He is currently the president of the Village de L’Est Improvement Association, a member of the East New Orleans men’s civic  group, Community Legion, and although no longer on the executive board, he is still active within the Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission (ENONAC) .

Needless to say, Blouin knows what is happening throughout his community. So, when he says that he would encourage young families who want to raise their children with a great education and community base should move to this neighborhood, we should trust him.

“Most of the kids can walk to school. Now, we live in a community where you go from first grade all the way to twelfth all in the same community,” Blouin states. “I would encourage a young family to move out here; it’s a great place to raise kids. In my neighborhood, everyone raised their kids here, and all of the kids went to college. All of them. That’s pretty incredible. Kids can really get a great education out here. That’s probably one of the best things you could ask for.”

The well-rated Einstein Charter Schools provides elementary and secondary education and is strategically positioned in the center of the neighborhood. Also, centralized is the new Village de L’Est playground which features basketball courts and all-purpose fields. “We have a great park being built,” says Blouin referring to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.  “And, a bunch of other projects. There’s our youth group, VAYLA [Vietnamese-American Young Leaders Association], and we have the CDC that helps develop projects in our community like the health center on Chef Highway. It’s called NOELA health center. It’s housed in our old post office building. There’s also some great gardens and organizations that help the youth as well as the elderly.”

The niche communities in Village de L’Est are diverse in culture, experiencing all walks, but everyone is connected. “It’s like a big family,” Blouin says. “People move here, raise their families and stay here. Look, a community is what its people make of it. Here, everyone knows each other and respects each other. We ask about each other’s kids, and if anyone needs help, we are there for them.”
 


About Village de l’Est

Village de L’Est is a small community neighborhood tucked in the eastern most tip of East New Orleans. It is known for its Catholic Vietnamese-American community and amenities like the famous Vietnamese restaurant, Dong Phuong Restaurant and Bakery (read more about Dong Phuong Restaurant and Bakery on page 19). The community is largely the product of descendants of refugees from the Vietnam War and is one of the fastest recovering neighborhoods after Hurricane Katrina. It features two centralized Einstein Charter Schools, parks and a strong community improvement association.