I have always been passionate about serving others, but I am not going to lie. I was a bit hesitant to refrain from going home over fall break to instead embark on a service and justice trip to an unknown location. Little did I know that making that decision to step outside of my comfort zone would soon change my life in more ways than one.
Come October, I, along with nine others, who I now consider dear friends, journeyed down South to New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon our arrival, we were all overwhelmingly welcomed with Mardi Gras beads (even though it wasn’t Mardi Gras,) and hospitable hosts who would later guide us in reflection. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is going to be an incredible week!”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the culture in New Orleans is like none other. The people, the music, the food, the dance, and the faith was apparent everywhere we went. It was quite evident that not even a seemingly unbearable disaster such Hurricane Katrina could break the bonds and hopeful spirits of these locals.
Here we are, thirteen years later, and many individuals, families, and communities are still building their way back up from one of 2005’s greatest tragedies. My peers and I had the privilege of working alongside several project leaders through an organization called the Saint Bernard Project; a non-profit that focusses on disaster relief services. In doing so, we were able to help build a home for Ms. Rosemary, an elderly woman that is still without her home that was lost due to the breakage of the levees during Hurricane Katrina.
I was amazed that despite our different ages, interests, and experience levels, we were all working together really hard to complete our tasks. Not only were we building a strong home for Ms. Rosemary, but we were also building a strong sense of community. It was through this community that we were able to see our work make a difference right in front of our eyes. From painting the ceilings and walls to installing baseboards and windowsills, we saw the foundation of the house transform into a warm home. It was the installation of these finishing touches that resonated with me most because they helped me envision Ms. Rosemary back in her life-long neighborhood, settled in with her family and friends, like she had been before the storm. The fruits of our labor and our community were going to be the restoration of Ms. Rosemary’s community.
Overall, this trip taught me that people are extraordinary in their own ways. It is within each person’s talents and experiences that we can grow a bond that can’t be broken as easily as the levees once were. I learned that with the help of a little time, a little laughter, and a lot of teamwork, hope for a better tomorrow can be restored. That is a lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Class of 2021
The SCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice (SCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the SCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.