Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

 

I can’t believe it’s been another month already!

Before Isaac came along, I had anticipated that I would use this blog to provide an update on what has been cooking at YRNO over the past month: The Youth Engagement Coordinators for the Future Leaders Initiative have started working full time at KIPP Renaisance and Sci Academy; We had (almost) secured 2 Tulane CPS interns for the fall; The project sites have been coming along nicely; YRNO was planning for a huge, 80-volunteer service day with the OG Cares Foundation.

However, the coming (and going) of Hurricane Isaac has given me a different perspective on the past month. Before Isaac hit New Orleans, my boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to be able to evacuate to his parents’ home in Mandeville. There, we were able to safely ride out the storm. I was thankful that his family was so welcoming of me into their home, that we did not lose power and that the house did not sustain any serious damage.

It wasn’t until I returned to the city, however, that I was able to fully appreciate how truly fortunate we were. This was my first hurricane. Returning to a city of flooded streets, downed power lines and debris was shocking. Soon after returning, my roommate, Betsy, and I volunteered at the NOLA 311 call center. Although I was probably more trouble to the call center than we were worth (I seem to be a magnet for technical difficulties), it was an eye-opening experience. We received calls from all across the city, heard stories of countless hardships brought on by the storm and did our best to provide assistance. Although I had complained of cabin fever from my experience, the call center made it really hit home that my experience was nothing in comparison to what many in the city faced.

Serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA during the hurricane has given me the unique opportunity to witness the ground level of the recovery effort. I am endlessly inspired by the amazing non-profits that take the initiative to keep the city afloat. I am amazed at the selflessness and the kindness demonstrated by so many members of the New Orleans community.

The leaders at YRNO are in the process of planning multiple large-scale days of service to assist those whose homes were flooded in Laplace and Lafitte. I am fortunate to be working at an organization that continually demonstrates such willingness and ability to help. Thank you, in advance, to all of those who are volunteering with YRNO!

Best wishes,

Lauren

 

-Lauren Lim, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

 

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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