Los Angeles Author Follows the Lead of Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Faith Hill in New Orleans Rebuild, a "Do Over"

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Philanthropic endeavor initiates a “Do Over” for both the bayou and its people. The “Do Over” shows people discontent with their current situation how to start over and make life work so they can enjoy it again.

"I’m inspired by the charitable efforts of people like Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Brett Favre and Charles Barkley to name a few. I see no reason why ‘average Joe’s’ like me can’t make as poignant an impact as do my celebrity contemporaries."

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It’s rare a person takes on the writing of a book and actually finishes. It’s rarer still a person would use the proceeds of that book to benefit others before themselves. But, that’s exactly what Los Angeles-based author and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matt Theriault is doing. And he’s doing it with a smile on his face. Theriault says he has good reason to smile given the recent launch of his website http://theDoOverGuy.com.

Complete with Theriault’s tips for starting over in any area of life, the purpose of the site is two-pronged: To share his “riches-to-rags-on-his-way-back-to-riches” insight and serve as a catalyst to further the cause of his foundation, Rebuild the Bayou (http://RebuildTheBayou.org). Theriault refers to the website as the “game” he’s playing in life, and he’s committed to adding thousands of people to his team’s roster.

A Passion for Giving

In December of 2007, Theriault founded Rebuild the Bayou with a mission to build and give away one home to one family displaced by Hurricane Katrina through a pay-it-forward “blueprint” formula he created using his real estate investing education business as its nucleus. He conceived the project after personally witnessing the woefully slow progress being made in some of New Orleans’ lower income neighborhoods nearly three years after the storm ravaged the antique city. Now five years have passed and not much has changed.

Inspired by the words of John F. Kennedy “One person can make a difference and everyone should try,” Theriault is still committed to his pay-it-forward “blueprint” formula, however, he has replaced his real estate investing education business as the nucleus with his new book, Do Over. The book reveals his life’s lessons during his rise in the ‘90’s as a music producer and record label owner to his fall to bagging groceries for six months in 2003 to his rise again as an accomplished real estate investor in 2009. Do Over was written in a way that it walks a person discontent with their current situation through a planning process of starting over, producing results in a fraction of the time to which they’re accustomed and making overall life work so it can be enjoyed.

The Rebuild the Bayou Foundation “blueprint” formula – which incorporates the foundation’s slogan Renew. Empower. Inspire. – includes:

1. Renewing the Lower Ninth Ward and enabling its residences to reclaim the neighborhood through others’ efforts.
2. Empowering others to achieve their dreams with an inimitable proven plan, the Do Over Plan (i.e. Teach a man to fish…).
3. Inspiring others to incorporate the Do Over Plan, pay it forward and donate additional homes to Lower Ninth Ward families in need until the bayou is rebuilt.

“I was appalled at the level of inaction being taken to rebuild areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East and other lower income neighborhoods, which were full of tax-paying citizens before Hurricane Katrina hit,” said Theriault. “Five years after the storm, the infrastructure in these areas is still virtually non-existent. There are hardly any operational gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores or retail shopping centers in the parts of New Orleans with the lowest incomes because the former merchants cannot afford to insure their businesses anymore.”

“The merchants – and many of New Orleans’ former residents – have been priced-out of the place they have always called home. It seems most of our country has forgotten about the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina. The Rebuild the Bayou Foundation and theDoOverGuy.com is my not-so-subtle reminder.”

The home, and the logistics of building it – which Theriault estimates will cost approximately $200,000 – will go to a family chosen by Theriault through an essay contest in which children from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School for Science & Technology – the only functional school in the Lower Ninth Ward – participated. Theriault has formed an alliance with the school’s principal, Doris Hicks, who was honored as one of People magazine’s 2007 Heroes of the Year, and is a powerful figure in the New Orleans community.

“When Theriault called me – out of the blue – and told me he wanted to donate a home to one of our King Charter School children, I screamed,” said Hicks. “The children did a wonderful job submitting essays describing their Hurricane Katrina experiences. We’re so encouraged knowing there are people like Matt Theriault who care, and who understand how special the Lower Ninth Ward is to us – and to the many people wanting to come back and rebuild.”

Accomplishing this feat through book sales for an unknown author will be no easy task. In fact, some people have laughed at his plan citing it can’t be done Theriault said. “I’m not naïve, just a big thinker with faith in humanity. I certainly will need the help of charitable contributions, national publicity, word of mouth and given the majority of my book sales will be conducted over the Internet, stories and mentions from influential bloggers could also make a significant impact.”

Matt visited the King Charter School and was warmly welcomed by the school’s faculty and students. During his visit, several local residents toured him through the parts of the city no longer receiving local or national news media coverage.

“The faculty and children at King Charter School are part of the heart-and-soul of New Orleans; they are an absolute delight,” said Theriault. “However, I saw some incredibly sobering post-storm images including multitudes sleeping under the Interstate-10 (Claiborne) bridge in tents, with a high-rise building sitting empty just a few hundred feet away. These are people who get up, go to work every day, and are forced to look at what could easily be their shelter in the interim while the powers-that-be haggle over bigger and better plans for the building.”

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted the lives of 4.5 million Louisiana citizens. As a result of the two hurricanes, more than 650,000 people were displaced from their homes, more than 1,000 residents died, more than 6,000 were reported missing and more than 3,000 were unaccounted for. “These are Americans on American soil still recovering from a five year-old catastrophe, and they continue to need assistance,” said Theriault. “I’m inspired by the charitable efforts of people like Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Brett Favre and Charles Barkley to name a few. I see no reason why ‘average Joe’s’ like me can’t make as poignant an impact as do my celebrity contemporaries.”

While visiting New Orleans, Theriault met with representatives from Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation and with Global Green, which is donating sustainable materials to the King Charter School for continued rebuilding maintenance. Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis also conceived Musicians Village, the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) rebuilding effort honoring the area’s multi-generational musician residents. Theriault says he learned through his research of these organizations that neither celebrity status nor financial positioning has made rebuilding in the Lower Ninth Ward an easy process for anyone.

Theriault remains undeterred.

For more information, to contact Matt Theriault or to contribute to Rebuild the Bayou visit http://www.theDoOverGuy.com or http://www.RebuildTheBayou.org, or call (310) 883-4527

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