Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Staff Council

Wheaton College helping New Orleans Recover 8 Years after Katrina

Posted on March 4, 2014

It has been eight years since Hurricane Katrina, and many homes in New Orleans are still uninhabitable.  The Wheaton community is doing something about that.

Each January, a group of Wheaton students, staff, faculty, and even student alums take a week out of their busy lives to help rebuild New Orleans.  During  winter break, they travel to Mardi Gras City, stay at a local church, and work with non-profit organizations to help clean up and rebuild this beautiful city.  Students earn no credit, and staff use vacation time to make this trip.

They are asked to do many kinds of work, including gutting a home, painting, cleaning, or gardening.  At one point during the last trip, some members of the Wheaton group worked with the National Park Service collecting and labeling "litter fall," meaning leaves, nuts, anything that falls to the ground.  The Park Service is doing a study on the items they gather.

The 2014 NOLA trip was unusual in that the Wheaton group had an opportunity to meet the owner of the home they were helping to rebuild.  Her name is Vera, and she left her home during the hurricane.  Her husband chose to stay, and he had to be rescued.  In the intervening years, Vera’s husband, mother, and a son have all died from various causes.  She is looking forward to moving into her newly rebuilt home in April and will raise her two grandsons there.

The last day the Wheaton group was in New Orleans, Vera prepared lunch for everyone.  She made homemade turkey necks.  They were very tasty!  If you want to try some, sign up for next year’s trip.

It is hard to believe that eight years after Hurricane Katrina, there is still so much work to be done.  And it’s hard not to feel indignant that this problem has not yet been solved.  How about you?  You can help by making a financial contribution at any time.  Or consider giving a week of your time to make a huge difference to people like Vera.

If you are interested in this project and would like to help, contact Jessie Durand at  X3907.

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