Anba Dol Festival, & the N.O. Healing Center

Oct 26, 2009 by

 This Friday, October 30th, is ANBA DLO, a Halloween Celebration, at the New Orleans Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue, in the St. Roch District of the Marigny/Bywater. While the event, itself, promises acrobats, live music, DJs, an Art Exhibit (featuring the well known Skeleton works of Mardi Claw, among others), the Healing Center as a neighborhood entity is poised on the edge of it’s commitment to offer so much more to the community.
 Their web site ( gives lengthy details about these endeavors, but the Healing Center and those behind it seem to be taking on flak, long before their opening has occurred. Some of this criticism came to light right here on Humidcity, in the form of an accusational link, although no background, details or evidence of any malfeasance was offered, merely anti-social ranting and some wild accusations.
 While I am always in favor of live music, Halloween, art shows, open bars and holistic healing (I mean, seriously, who isn’t?), I’m also a big fan of getting to the truth of the matter at hand.
 In keeping with that ideal, I asked Sallie Ann Glassman, well known Voodoo Mambo, Spiritual Guide and proprietor of Island Of Salvation Botanica on Piety Street, to clear up some issues surrounding the New Orleans Healing Center. Her name appears on the non-profit charter that is running this show, so I thought this would be a good place to start. Besides, if New Orleanians can’t trust their local Voodoo priestess, then who can we trust?
 LD: It has been said that this whole show is being run by Pres Kabacoff, and that he’s the guy who renovated the St Thomas projects. Also that He’s some mega-rich developer with a secret agenda. Any comment?
 SG: Pres is CEO of HRI. HRI has nothing to do with The New Orleans Healing Center. Pres is working independently as the developer of the Healing Center. HRI, I believe, inherited the St Thomas redevelopment project from some other developer, who was removed from the project prior to HRI coming on board. There are several of the former St Thomas Housing Project buildings that remain and have been renovated as part of the River Garden development.  But none of that has anything whatsoever to do with the Healing Center.
 If anyone needs any more info about Pres Kabacoff, or his finances, I suggest they find the courage and “transparency” to use their own names and contact him directly. I cannot speak for him and personally don’t know his financial status.  I have found him to be one of the most civically-minded, generous, kind-hearted, well-informed, intelligent and hard working people I have ever known. He also is a tremendously capable businessperson — I and all the members of the healing center have learned a great deal from him and I believe our community  and our project is blessed to have his support and attention. Let’s not waste his time or energy, right?
 LD: There has also been some question as to who is running the Healing Center non-profit and what sort of situation that creates.
 SG: In the interest of absolute correctness, Pres and I are co-leading the healing center effort, with many more participating. I am the president of a 501(c)3 public charity, called La Source Ancienne Ounfo, Inc. I hold free ceremonies that are open to the public every Saturday night in my peristyle. I also sponsor an annual outreach event — the Anba Dlo festival – to bring awareness, attention and support to the New Orleans Healing Center and to bring blessings to the St Claude/St Roch Corridor and community.  I do not receive any profit from the event.
If there ever are any profits, they recycle through the non-profit to be used for future outreach events. 
 The New Orleans Healing Center will form an independent, non-profit foundation,  “The Friends of the New Orleans Healing Center,” which can receive donations and public and private grants to subsidize all the center’s programs for empoverished people.
 I hope eveyone realizes that the IRS has very stringent rules for non-profits and for profit organizations. It is not legally possible for a person to personally profit from non-profit funds. Even a not-for-profit organization has to demonstrate that they are financially sustainable. The Healing Center has to demonstrate that it is financially sustainable or no one — gov’t included – is going to invest money in it and no one should waste one second of their time developing a project that is not going to survive.
 One of the most beautiful things about the healing center is the remarkably diverse group of people that is coming together as a community to make something positive and healing happen for the good of all.  The police and spiritualists, artists and business people, black/white/all colors in between, rich/poor/middle income — even grassroots and government. We have all grown and learned from our partcipation with one another.
LD: How did the Healing Center concept first come about?
SG: Pres and I are partnering in leading the development of The Healing Center. We formed our Sunday Salon group right after Katrina, which brought concerned citizens together as a way to explore how we could help in the  rebuilding of New Orleans. We have worked on three projects so far: a cultural video series, which you can see on our website, a committee to advise the City Council on Energy policy (Pres holds the Chair of that committee), and The New Orleans Healing Center. We have worked dilligently, voluntarily and relentlessly for the last 4 years and I really have to wonder what fault anybody finds in that effort.
 For that matter, I’m perplexed as to what great evil — or even what offensive New Agey fluff — anyone sees in a cooperative neighborhood grocery, an organic urban garden, a street university, or any of the components of the healing center.
LD: There have been some questions raised about having the 5th District Police Headquarters in the same building as the Healing Center. Certainly some of the residents of the St Roch area have their concerns about what will transpire there.
SG: As for the police… When Pres heard that the 5th District was still working out of Fema trailers, he raised the money civically to get them into the Universal Furniture building until their own facility was restored. Once the Healing Center moves into rennovation, the police will move into a smaller portion of the building and ultimately the entire 5th district precinct will have to move into its own bldg. A small sub-station will remain in the Healing Center.
 I hope that answers all the questions. I do appreciate your efforts to communicate and clear up disinformation, mistrust, fear and negativity.
Keep the faith,
Sallie Ann Glassman
And keep the faith I shall.
 While unsupported histronics and wild accusations may take up somebody else’s afternoon wait for the bars to open, actual progress to bring alternative food sources & education, and particularly wholistic health care, is a sign of healing, indeed. Especially in this time of great health care debate, when often enough, only those with sizable income can afford such a thing.
And healing is something New Orleans is still in great need of.
Hats off to Sallie Ann and all involved in this project.
I hope their Halloween festival is all they hoped it would be.
Perhaps I’ll see you there….
New Orleans
Anba Dlo

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