Hello Everyone! Sorry that I have been out of the loop for a little bit, but I just got back this past weekend from my trip to New Orleans. As I previously have written about, I was one of eleven students going down to New Orleans through MSPP’s C.A.R.E (communities assisting relief efforts) team. The trip was incredible and I had an amazing experience! This was my first time in New Orleans and before going down I was really looking forward to gaining an understanding to what it was like for the community when Hurricane Katrina hit and I was also looking forward to being able to contribute towards rebuilding efforts. Not only did I achieve these goals, but the trip exceeded my expectations. So here are some highlights from the week…
On Monday we volunteered with St. Paul’s Homecoming Center and we planted 32 trees in a neighborhood park. We were teamed up with one of the residents from the neighborhood who was in charge of managing the park, and after a hard day’s work of digging, planting, and cleaning out debris through scattered rain storms, we finished the project and all 32 trees brought some life back to the park.
On Tuesday we volunteered with the St. Bernard Project and we worked on rebuilding a house. Before heading off to rebuild, we had a chance to drive through the lower ninth ward and see the levee system. This was the area that got hit the hardest, and it was amazing to see the damage that still existed. After getting a glimpse of the damage that was done, we headed off to help finish up the final projects in a home that was almost rebuilt. We completed a variety of projects- from painting to cleaning up the work site. One of my teammates and I tiled a bathroom floor! I have never tiled before, but we did a pretty good job! The best part of the day was when the homeowner’s daughter came by to check on the status of the project. The homeowner is currently living with family in Texas while her home is being rebuilt, and it was amazing to hear her daughter talk about what their family had been through. She was so appreciative for our help and that made it all worthwhile.
The first couple of days were definitely the most grueling in terms of physical labor and by Wednesday morning I was definitely feeling the effects of our work…Nonetheless we headed out early to spend the day at Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO). We split up in two groups and one group helped take care of the dogs and my group helped take care of the cats. I am a huge animal lover so I had a blast at ARNO, and between cleaning cages I got to play with the cats/kittens. There were so many animals at ARNO in need of homes, and I think we all enjoyed spending the day with them and providing them with some love and affection.
Thursday we spent the day at a local Head Start and helped out in classrooms with preschool age kids. I spend the day in a pre-K classroom and had an absolute blast. The kids were so excited that I was there and I had so much fun playing with them. After Head Start, we headed off to volunteer at the Hornet’s NBA basketball game. I love watching basketball so I was really excited about this project. We split up and did various jobs, from face painting to handing out programs. Once we were finished with our jobs we got to watch the game…and the Hornet’s won!
Lastly, on Friday we volunteered with Green Light New Orleans and we went around to people’s homes and installed energy efficient light bulbs. This was a really cool project and it was a great experience to get to know the people of New Orleans.
Between all of our projects, we found some time to check out the city and to experience the culture. New Orleans is a great city and I had an amazing trip. It was nice to do a variety of projects, as each project provided me with a different perspective on the culture. It was such a rewarding experience to visit a community in need and to works towards making a difference. I am SO glad that I went. Below is a picture of the group from a BBQ thrown by the hotel owner and his wife.