For Friday night our Fearless Leader of the
December 14, 2007
For Friday night our Fearless Leader of the
December 13, 2007
We began the morning spreading out and making holiday decorations and ornaments with all the participants, and chatting away while we transformed their center into a holiday wonderland. It was a blast, we even helped some of the patients write Xmas cards to their kids since some of their motor skills permitted them from doing so themselves. Then we helped the staff prep and serve lunch, and we all sat down together to eat.
After lunch we switched to game time; dominoes, cards, and bingo were all on the agenda, it was a blast! We ended the afternoon with a pass the package game, a type of musical chairs where there is a present with a bunch of layers of wrapping and every time the music stops the person holding the gift gets to unwrap a layer. Pretty comical when some men don't want to pass the package and others grab it eagerly. It was all in good spirit, and definitely got me excited for the holidays!
Thursday evening the sisters set up a special speaker for us, her name was Lisa and she was head of security for the Super Dome. She was in charge when it became the evacuation site for Katrina, and came to tell us all her story. It was crazy to hear her explain how off the media was in their portrayal of the events, and she calmly told her side which included an ultimate struggle involving her dog Missy. Apparently the whole time they tried to evacuate her, they would not take her dog, so she stuck it out until she could make it out with her pooch. A woman close to my heart! She was so sweet, and after her talk invited us all as "her family" to the staff party for the Super Dome. We had no clue what we were getting into, but when we pulled up behind Lisa into Saints parking only, and got straight into the dome through all barricades aside, we knew we were VIP.
Once we arrived at the dome we went straight inside to see where ~7,000 people spent their days during the hurricane. It was cool to put the place to the story, and it really re-enforced how crazy the scene must have been! Then she took us down on the field, where the boys proceeded to 100 yard dash and get jazzed over being on an NFL field. It was pretty cool I must admit. Then we went to the staff gathering, where we were introduced as the “California Volunteers” by the DJ, we mingled, ate, and had a great time getting to know locals.
After the dome, we headed to "Le Bon Temps Roule," where a local famous band, The Soul Rebels, performed every Thursday for free. Apparently they are pretty pricey anywhere else, but that's the amazingness of the NO music scene, it's like no other. It was a small place, with locals crammed together to enjoy this upbeat group rocking out in their home town. We watched the band, enjoyed the brass tunes, and headed home to make our curfew!
December 12, 2007
For dinner, we were signed up to prepare Jumbalaya for ~100 musicians and other low income folks. We cleaned up and drove straight to
We served the dinner to the locals, while musicians played live for us in the background; it was quite relaxing and enjoyable. We had a chance to mingle and get to know some of the residents in need; it was definitely eye opening for our group.
Another wonderful couple days in NOLA…
December 11, 2007
They taught us their songs and chants, shared their stories.
We read to them aloud, and helped make holiday decorations for their school. So much fun!
Some of them were Katrina survivors and we talked a bit about that. The energy was admirable.
Tuesday we rose bright and early and headed for the Helping Hands construction site at 8am. We were set to do demolition work and gut out a house that had extreme mold and water damage. The house was pretty nice, brick and 2 stories, but sadly it was owned by a man that was left bound to a wheelchair after Katrina.
We were determined to help out, especially after finding out he was in a home that had depleted all of his funds. We were also told he had been ripped off by the workers he originally hired for $1000/wk, which is apparently common post-Katrina.
We picked up our tools and started demolishing inside the house, it was an eerie experience to say the least, and quite exhausting. Midday the home owner's brother came by to thank us, and we got to talk with him a bit and reinforce why we were there.
Gale, the owner of the house we were painting, also came by to express her gratitude, it was amazing! Here is a picture of the group with Gale, she was an incredible lady.
We got dusty, dirty, sweaty, and loved every minute!
Later that night we were able to get out and explore the area.
We went straight to the famous Cafe du Monde
where we ordered coffee and their renowned
Beignets (amazing powdered sugar doughnut snacks).
DEEE licious...no wonder they are famous.
After that we walked along the river bank,
enjoyed the scenery, and had time to reflect about the days happenings.
December 9, 2007
Once we arrived, we went on a "misery tour" and got shown the lower 9th ward, some abandoned projects, and of course the French Quarter...oh ya and Brangelinas little project site (Make it Right Foundation) which was pretty interesting. It's crazy how deserted some areas are; it's like a ghost town and a 3rd world country combined in some areas, but beautiful and lots of spirit, too.
Then it was on to our house to recuperate from a long day of traveling. We are staying in the coolest old house next to a beautiful church, with three really sweet "sisters" that welcomed us with hugs and a home cooked meal. It is called the Duchesne House, and belongs to the Religious of the
As much as we were all anxious to go out and experience NOLA our first night, we all resemble zombie like creatures and decided we should probably take it easy after our hectic day of traveling. So we decided to sleep early tonight, work all day tomorrow at the animal shelter, and then maybe go out exploring. Looks like it is going to be a great trip!
December 1, 2007
Student Life & Leadership approved the program, and it was adopted into the SCS (Student Community Services) portfolio as one of many programs that encourages students at Poly to engage in community service. As an AmeriCorps member stationed at The Cal Poly Community CENTER, I (Kelsey Currier-pictured below left) have taken this project and ran with it, and it has been incredibly rewarding. Amber Tierney (pictured below right) has been my staff back-up, and to her I want to say a big THANK YOU!
We hope to institutionalize this program, with service trips during each academic break, open to all students on campus of every college, year and major.
Please check out our website for more information.