Nine Villa Maria students, accompanied by Kara Bielli, Villa’s Director of Service Learning, spent their Easter break volunteering and repairing a house in New Orleans through SBP (formerly the the Saint Bernard Project). The group began their week with a tour of the levees and the Lower Ninth Ward, the area most heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina. They also began working on a home that was destroyed first in the hurricane, repaired, and then damaged again during a tornado last year. Most of their daily work involved mudding and sanding drywall.
“The girls performed 5 days of labor-intensive service in NOLA With SBP,” said Kara Bielli. “They did all of this hard work with a great attitude. The homeowner is a senior citizen who due to financial constraints had to chose between buying flood insurance or buying home owners insurance after Hurricane Katrina. She chose flood insurance. Then the tornado hit. The work the girls did will hasten the homeowner’s return to her home and community.”
The trip wasn’t all work and no play. Before and after their daily service work on the house, the girls fit in lots of New Orleans fun and adventure, including the chance to get up close and personal with some alligators. The girls hiked a trail in the Jean Lafitte National Park, where they saw lots of alligators, and took an air boat ride, where the guide fed alligators, and some of the girls held a baby gator. They toured the French Quarter and the Louisiana State Museum, where they learned more about Hurricane Katrina.
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. The group dined at Dat Dog and Voodoo BBQ and Grill, and ate po’ boys and jambalaya. One evening they went to the Preservation Hall in the French Quarter and listened to live jazz music.
At the end of a successful trip, Mrs. Bielli noted, “The girls are amazing. They are remarkable, fun, and caring individuals.”