Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break, Week 3

So, the third and biggest week of Spring Break came and went. We had over 160 Spring Breakers come during the week. They came from:
  • Xavier University
  • Darmouth College
  • University of Wisonsin, River Falls & Madison campuses
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of Wyoming
  • Iowa State University
  • Hamilton College
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of South Dakota
  • Hamilton College Alumni
Wow! Talk about lines for food and the showers. Still, everyone manage to contribute to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast during their time.

Many worked on education-focused projects, such as tutoring, helping with the Boys & Girls Club after school programs, working with Nichols Elementary's after-school program, making lunch for the teachers at the Center for New Opportunities and Pass Road Elementary, as well as the usual array of projects.

Teaching Guitar

Spring Breakers began the second phase of construction on the Lameuse St house that was started in December 07. The house passed its framing inspection, which meant the insulation and dry wall was ready to roll. Fantastic!

Other projects were working out at Moss Point, helping to prepare the baseball diamonds for use, as well as the not-so-glamorous-but-very-important cleaning of drainage ditches to reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rains and the next hurricane to hit the area.

A little closer to home, out at Gulf Islands National Seashore, volunteers began helping restore bird habitats. Out west, still on the environmental kick, we had volunteers doing live oak restoration in Pass Christian.

One of the other great projects that folks enjoyed was the making and distribution of easter baskets for the elderly. It's something that the residents love and gets our folks connected with the community they came to serve.

It's not all work, though. We had a crawfish boil and bonfire on the beach. We had about 100 people show up, learn to eat crawfish, marvel at the spiciness that a corn cob can absorb, and enjoy the warmth of a fire when the March winds blow.

For the service learning group, we held a panel discussion that focused on education issues. Teachers from Pass Road Elementary and the Center for New Opportunities came to talk to the schools who participated. One of the compelling personal reflections came from Ms. Drakeford, a kindergarten teacher at Pass Rd. Elementary. She said that her kids were 2 and 3 years old when Katrina hit. For the next year and a half to two years, there were no parks and no places for the kids to play. So the kids don't just play spontaneously. They sit around or play on the computer, but they don't run and skip like 5 year olds should.

That observation just brings home how critical each aspect of the work we do is. You can just work on a single aspect of the community's recovery to the neglect of the others. Community is not so much a place, but a state of mind, a concept, a feeling. You can't necessarily touch 'community', but you can see the effects of its presence. We help build those invisible linkages that become the basis for community.

Thank you to everyone who came down during your Spring Break to take part in not only rebuilding the Gulf Coast, but just as importantly building community.

Crawfish Boil

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