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Despite Directors Stepping Down, The New Orleans Mission Will Remain Open

by Shay Sokol

Ron and Linda Gonzales stepped down as the directors of the New Orleans Mission on Thursday, days after they announced funds are too tight and the Mission will have to close for the summer. But a day later, officials stepped in to keep the homeless shelter at 1130 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. open. At a press conference held at the Mayor’s office this morning, Bennett Powell, Chairman of the Mission, announced a new director, a grant, and an anonymous, private donation, that will enable the Mission to remain open through the summer while expanding its hours to 24 hours a day.


The faith-based homeless shelter provides three meals a day, a place to pray, and 148 beds. Its Discipleship program has been significantly waning, along with other issues involving a lack of services for homeless women and families.


The new director, David Bottner, said at the press conference, “The Lord has blessed me with many profitable businesses in my life to set the stage for this.”


According to his website, Bottner said, “Shortly after a life changing encounter with The Lord at age 30 in 2003, I was tasked by God in a vision; To launch a ministry in New Orleans, LA, modeled after the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA.” He is the Executive Director of Compassion Outreach International, a consultant to marketing companies like the ARC (Automotive Relationship Consultants), the CEO of ACUAA (American Credit Union Auto Auctions), a minister to men and women addicted to drugs around the country, a motivational speaker, and an evangelist. Chairman Powell noted Bottner’s business expertise would guide the Mission to more efficient operations.


Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development, Cedric Grant, announced that the Mission will receive a $50,000 grant to stay open for the summer. A private, anonymous donation will also help to cover costs.


Stacy Horn-Koch, the head of the City’s homeless efforts, said the Mission is integral to the Mayor’s 10-year plan to end homelessness in New Orleans.


“This is really a great example of a collaboration between faith-based organizations and homeless service providers,” Horn-Koch said.


Grant said current counts put the number of homeless people in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes around 4,900. There are probably even more than that, he said..


Recently appointed Councilwoman Diana Bajoie spoke positively of the appointment of the new director of the Mission, the grant and donation.


“We’re moving in the right direction toward treating the homeless with dignity… and getting them permanent shelter,” Bajoie said.


David Bottner said of his new position, “We will form great partnerships with collaborative committees around the city… We will promote growth, change and stability in their lives. What Christ gave me was hope. What we will extend to them [the homeless] is hope and love.”

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