Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

Dolla dolla bill$, y’all.

The big news of the month is that YRNO raised upwards of $14,000 on GiveNOLA Day, thanks at least in part to my “dime a day” donation challenge, which I kicked off with a “dollar a day” gift.  This led to my Aunt Nita coming up with the idea to dump ice water on my head as part of the challenge—and I agreed it would be done if ten people participated, which happened with room to spare.  Our first purchase was a new generator for the construction crew.  Much love to everyone!

In other YRNO headlines, we’re part of a working group for the city’s upcoming Hurricane Katrina 10th anniversary Day of Service, organized by the mayor’s office.  Ice dumper Sam Stephens and I attended the last two meetings in the absence of our highly esteemed boss Will.  Fortunately, all three of us were able to make it to a career day at Sci Academy, where we were given about five minutes to speak to scholars about our employment lives—a fun endeavor for sure, but particularly tough for me to do in so little time!  The staff also attended a Zephyrs baseball game, as Bryan ChevroletSubaruMitsubishi supplied free tickets to a corporate suite with complimentary food and drink, of which I took wholehearted advantage while watching a shutout win! #twoburgers #threehotdogs #IamAmeriCorps

Excellent news on the VISTA front—effective immediately, members can work side jobs.  A little late for me since I already missed writing about college basketball the past two seasons, but a nice change going forward nonetheless.  On Tuesday, some of our Tulane team discussed this and other VISTA-related topics with Lani Gholston of the CNCS Louisiana office—and got a free Reginelli’s lunch to boot!

Our most recent VISTA service day involved landscaping in the Lower Ninth Ward for a design build project with the Tulane City Center and Tulane architecture students. As always, it was a blast, as we got free pizza for lunch and welcomed our newest teammate, Renée Slajda, fresh from New York.  Speaking of which, our most vocal New York cheerleader—Krishna Pandya—celebrated a big birthday a few weeks ago, and the gang played Cards Against Humanity and got kinda krazy with her to mark the milestone.  Soon after, Miss Krishna and Project Homecoming “partied with a purpose” at Shamrock to begin their GiveNOLA Day fundraising efforts—and I won tickets to the National WWII Museum in a raffle, so we’ll be headed there in the near future.  On the subject of raffle mojo, I won two more the night Renée, my roommate Tom and our VISTA leader Amy went to see former VISTA Sara Green dance with Bookoo Rueda at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, so a foodie crawl and “Safari After Dark” are in store too!  (In hindsight, I probably also should’ve entered the raffle during the Eden House happy hour at Eiffel Society, eh Helen and Maggie?)  Last but not least, I attended the Zone Music Reporter awards at the Joy Theater with Alle Ehrhardt, who scored more free tickets!  I had an outstanding time listening to all the performers.

(After reading the previous shout-out heavy paragraph, it should come as no surprise that one of my personality strengths is referred to as an “includer.”  I got another free lunch on the VISTA Friday I learned that, by the way. #pressstreetstation #iamawootoo)

Beyond the outing with Alle, it was definitely a music-filled month, starting with a trip to see the Soul Rebels at Jazz in the Park, where the cutest little girl asked me to dance and of course, I obliged.  However, that was just a warm-up for the last Sunday of Jazz Fest, when I saw Naughty Professor, The O’Jays and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly in succession, thanks to still more free tickets.  All three were terrific, but I really think the O’Jays put on the best concert I’ve ever seen!  #lovetrain  #timemachine


Finally, I spent this past Saturday morning in the Superdome at the Tulane unified commencement ceremony, where the keynote speaker was actress and comedian Maya Rudolph—who channeled Oprah Winfrey in announcing, “We’re all getting diplomas!”  I enjoy graduations, even though they can leave me feeling somewhat wistful.  While it’s always exciting to celebrate achievement and moving on to something new, it’s sad to leave something else behind.  I’m bracing for that exact dichotomy of emotions now, as I must wave goodbye to VISTA life before long.

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

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