Insights > In the service of others: Drew Thompson’s commitment to New Orleans East
In the service of others: Drew Thompson’s commitment to New Orleans East
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
Drew Thompson, Entergy New Orleans Manager of Distribution Reliability, has seen firsthand how New Orleans East has changed, and he plans to improve his community’s future through service.
“When I was growing up, doctors, lawyers, and families were moving here,” Drew said. “Malls, movie theaters and local businesses were thriving. Our local schools were competing at the top level in the state.”
His personal mission: what can he do to get the East back to what he remembers as a child?
Through the power of volunteerism, Drew is helping to make a difference throughout the metro area by partnering with Central City Christian Fellowship Church to host free health fairs, packaging food with Second Harvest Food Bank to feed the hungry and joining a mentoring program with Son of a Saint to help foster the next generation of New Orleanians. However, the volunteer opportunities closer to his home and office in New Orleans East are what fill Drew with pride and motivate him to keep working to move the East forward.
Drew was born in Uptown New Orleans in the early 80s, and his family moved to the East when he was still a toddler. He attended elementary, middle, and high school in New Orleans East, and, after securing an electrical engineering degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, the new graduate moved back to his hometown with a new job at Entergy New Orleans just months before everything changed.
“New Orleans East has always been my comfort zone,” said Drew. “I was so happy to be back home.”
On August 29, 2005, Drew’s “comfort zone” and the surrounding communities were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. His house was flooded. His father and younger brother were evacuated on a plane by the U.S. military. His mother was relocated to Alexandria to work for Charity Hospital.
Despite having little communication with his family members and uncertainty about his home and belongings, Drew committed himself to Entergy’s storm restoration team. For two months, he left his engineering post to work with Entergy and mutual aid crews staged across Southern Louisiana, tracking resources, transporting laundry, and helping ensure crews had what they needed so they could focus on rebuilding.
Drew said that this period of sacrifice and service taught him to never take anything for granted. The neighborhoods, restaurants, and schools that he grew up around would never be the same.
“I couldn’t get to my house for three weeks,” Drew recalled. “When I got there and saw what the water had done, the only thing that I could save were my high school diploma and college degree. I lost all my pictures.”
Now, 18 years later, fellow Entergy employees and community members often see Drew smiling from ear to ear with his sleeves rolled up, taking a selfie with a new friend in between handing out a bag of nonperishables to someone in need or putting a shovel into the ground to plant a new tree.
“I take so many pictures now, because I know what can happen,” Drew said.
Among the initiatives and partnerships that Drew is involved with to help New Orleans East residents, his two favorites are the annual “Drive-thru Back to School Fest” and “Turkey Drive” at Einstein Charter network. Einstein Charter network is composed of four schools, including Drew’s alma mater, Sarah T. Reed High School, which had over 2,000 students when he was a senior. Now, the institution hosts approximately 350 students. Drew currently serves on the Einstein Charter School board.
“I want the school to get back to the point where they’re the school to beat,” said Drew. “It starts with helping our families. With the Turkey Drive, I get to look parents in the eyes and know that that they will be eating well. When school comes around, I can hand kids classroom supplies and know that some parents aren’t forced to decide whether to buy a uniform or a book sack.”
Drew has served Entergy for 18 years through several engineering, customer service and management roles dealing with transmission, distribution, community relations, and power generation. He is the Chair of the Committee for Entergy New Orleans’ “Plus One Program,” which was founded in 2021 to provide a spotlight for acts of exceptional customer service within the company.
Drew continues to go the extra mile to improve the lives of those around him. When he recruits others to volunteer, he tells them that it’s not only about helping others.
“When you volunteer, you interact with people that you may not normally meet,” said Drew. “When you’re suddenly assigned a task with someone you’ve never met, whether it’s a company executive, an intern or a community member showing up to volunteer by your side, there’s always something you can learn from them to better yourself.”
Drew believes that, in this way, volunteerism can start a cycle to transform his community.
“If someone sees me putting in the work and says, ‘hey, I can stay here and make a difference,’ then my hope is for them to go on and do even more.”
To learn more about our outstanding employees who are focused on making the right decisions and building a brighter and more resilient New Orleans, visit https://www.entergy-neworleans.com/we-are-eno/.