PALM COAST, Fla. -- Danny Wuerffel, the former NFL quarterback who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy while playing for the University of Florida, has found life after football. Wuerffel, who played in the pro-am Wednesday at the Ginn Sur Mer Classic at The Conservatory at Hammock Beach with Chris DiMarco, is executive director of Desire Street Ministries, a charity whose mission is to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development. The ministry was the benefiting charity of this week's PGA Tour pro-am.
DSM was founded in 1990 in the Desire neighborhood of the Upper Ninth Ward, the area of New Orleans hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Wuerffel, who played for the New Orleans Saints as well as the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, retired from football in 2004 to work fulltime at DSM. He became executive director in 2006.
The Upper Ninth Ward was submerged under eight feet of water when the levees were breached in the wake of Katrina and DSM coordinated more than 1,200 volunteers to clean up 150 damaged structures in the area. Wuerffel says the ministry approaches problems in a holistic way, addressing physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
DSM, which educates future community leaders at the Desire Street Academy in Baton Rouge and has projects in other urban areas in the Southeast, partnered with Ninth Ward residents in 2006 to found a community development corporation which is now renovating neighborhood homes and plans to begin building new affordable housing as soon as funding can be secured.
More information about the ministry can be found at www.desirestreet.org.