The week thus far has been absolutely amazing. Looking through the other posts I’ve decided to shine a little light on Thursday, volunteering with the Saint Bernard’s Project (SBP) to help rebuild New Orleanais homes. During orientation, at the SBP offices, our team was divided into two smaller groups, with myself being destined to the house that was about to be gutted. It was bound to be a lot of work but upon receiving the homeowner’s biography, I needed no more motivation. This home belonged to a family with a man who is a former serviceman and full-time employee, while at the same time dealing with an autoimmune disorder known as lupus. He and his wife have two children, a son diagnosed with pre-leukemia and a daughter who had to deal with far too much at far too young of an age. Their home is a beautiful, large, two-story house that had been flooded by Katrina. This house was larger than they normally would take on, totalling a cost three times that of most houses they normally do. SBP does not work on a first come first serve basis but works to provide families that they feel most need their help the most and given the circumstances they’ve had decided to take on this massive home. The manual labour was intense, pulling slats off the walls and running up and down the stairs to and from the dumpster and tiptoeing around the rusty nails. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this stage of the rebuild because I was able to see what the house looked like before it becomes transformed into a modern day replica.
By the time lunch rolled around I was ready to satisfy my hunger with a traditional poor-boy (po-boy) sandwich from just down the street from our worksite (word was that this was the same place Obama had enjoyed a po-boy). And I have to say, it surpassed my expectations. It was absolutely delicious.
After some more work on the house it was time to head out, but this meant an end to the SBP work. Although we never got the opportunity to meet the homeowners, their story resonates in my heart. Simply by knowing the story I was able to make a connection between our volunteer efforts and the how much it would mean to the family. At the end of the day as I looked around the house and everything we had accomplished, I had this immediate feeling of happiness. I know it’s a small bit in the long run of all that needs to be done to restore NOLA. However, the accumulation of all the small efforts put forward by volunteers leads to something much bigger. No I didn’t change the world or rebuild all of NOLA in one week. But there is the possibility that I had helped someone or am the reason for someone’s smile. There is more than one way to implement change and it doesn’t have to be at a global scale to be significant. I’ve had an amazing experience in NOLA and this is nothing more than a little piece of a great day and an even greater week.