Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans


Whereas I usually end my field reports with that battle cry, this month I also begin with it since YRNO won the $50,000 Super Service Challenge grand prize presented by Saints quarterback Drew Brees at a Super Bowl week event in Phoenix.  The victorious video featured Lynn Young of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, who received the check on our behalf.  That brought our total haul to over $100,000, which is more than double what we got last year! #everybodywashappy

The first tangible benefit of that windfall came in the form of a trip to purchase two new office computers after YRNO Executive Director Will Stoudt finally reached a level of frustration close to mine with the barely functional machines we were using.  Not only was my hardware regularly freezing up, but it had also become infected with “ransomware,” encrypting years of files on my drives.  No way would I ever pay a cyberpunk to unlock them, but at least now I should be properly protected from losing any more. I thank colleague Kyle Cousans for the assistance in setting up my computer; I’m going to miss him as he just landed a job that will take him from us, but it’s always great to see AmeriCorps success stories!

In other YRNO news, we’ve been in the midst of the (relative) calm before the spring break volunteer storm, so I had the chance to apply for a couple of grants we didn’t win in previous tries.  Let’s hope the second time is the charm because there will be no third attempts before my VISTA term ends.  We also had a notable Friday at the end of last month when Will and I spoke to a class at Xavier University prior to their service day today—and then later went to an event at the architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, where they presented us with a master plan for our St. Ann Street properties as part of their 2015 Day of Service in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

On the topic of recent holidays, I have no special love for Mardi Gras.  Yup, you read right.  That’s not to convey ill will because I like pretty much anything that involves hanging with friends, but I’ll take Saints games, house parties or hitting the clubs over beaucoup parades.  Blasphemous or not, the festivities are not particularly intoxicating to me.  (Pun intended—I can live without ridiculous quantities of alcohol and beads.)  I went to Endymion and Thoth and had the requisite fun, but I won’t be counting down the days until next Mardi Gras season.  I can’t say I get the hype.

My most memorable outing this past month was to the second annual Project Homecoming gala.  My fellow Tulane VISTA Krishna Pandya did a fantastic job in helping to organize it and there was an excellent turnout of our peers thanks in part to the AmeriCorps discount offered!  I parlayed my savings (and more) into a winning silent auction bid on dinner at Ye Olde College Inn and admission for two at Rock N Bowl, which meant the pictured Alle Ehrhardt was the real winner.  Then after dancing it up at the gala, I headed to Hi-Ho Lounge for some more boogie-down with DJ Soul Sister!  The latter was so nice I did it twice, going back two weeks later.

Also worthy of note were excursions to Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse (again, twice), Barrel Proof, Touché, Howlin’ Wolf to see Naughty Professor and Rebirth Brass Band, Dragon’s Den for Kompression (wow!), The Holy Ground for long overdue fellowship with a former volunteer coordinator and—last but not least—my buddy Jim Coningsby’s house for both the cray-cray “Mardilympics” and a Super Bowl party.  The Patriots won, the Seahawks lost, yada, yada, yada.  Next year, the Saints!




This entry was posted on February 21, 2015 by in VISTA Field Reports, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans.


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