The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard.
Joseph Meraux’s landholdings were among the largest known in the history of St. Bernard Parish. When he died, he left his estate to Arlene Meraux, who established the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation. The family-run private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization relies upon its landholdings to implement an innovative strategy to improve St. Bernard Parish in accordance with Arlene’s guiding vision.
In addition to the customary functions of foundations, the Meraux Foundation manages, maintains, and preserves extensive and diverse properties, including levee-protected lands, pastures, woodlands, historic structures and sites, canals, water bottoms, riverfront property, battures, bayou-ridge sites, and non-levee wetlands and marshes.
Each type of land poses complex and often delicate challenges in its preservation, protection, and use, but the Foundation aims to maximize both short- and long-term benefits for the community and ecosystem. The Meraux Foundation intends to preserve natural environments while pushing St. Bernard ahead using smart-growth and sustainable development principles.
To date, it has donated land for public need, such as for the hospital and sheriff’s station, made real estate impact investments to spur economic development, and leveraged property to fund its charitable activities, including an annual scholarship program.
These advances add up to the ultimate goal of improving the local quality of life for all St. Bernard residents.