Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!

Still not halfway through the year and YRNO has already topped our 2014 total for bunkhouse revenue and volunteer donations!  And no, that doesn’t even include our record-breaking Super Service Challenge and GiveNOLA Day hauls!  Can’t help but feel my tenure here has been a success.  Always proud to wear the AmeriCorps “A” over my heart!  #gettingthingsdone

As the clock ticks down, I find myself doing more and more things for the last time as a VISTA.  This month, that included writing my last grant and compiling my last newsletter for YRNO.

I‘ve also experienced the final two service days alongside my Tulane VISTA cohort, one for the Broadmoor Improvement Association and the other a repeat of last year’s city assisted hurricane evacuation drill, with a twist.  This year, volunteers got the option of acting like a “problem” evacuee, and of course I was just the man for the job.  I pretended to be afraid of flying, so I and the rest of my VISTA “family” were escorted off to the side when we arrived at the airport, as you can see below.   I shall forevermore be known as the crazy uncle in the Cait Donohue family, which is perfect casting.  After a free lunch, I went out with another VISTA contingent for a round of miniature golf at City Park.  My performance was nothing to brag about, although I did achieve my goal of a hole-in-one on number 18!  #betterlatethannever


Another notable VISTA Friday occurred when we screened the film Big Charity.  I had seen it before, but this time director Alex Glustrom was on hand for a Q&A session.  That was great, but it was even better when a few of us ran into him again that evening at NOLA Brewing, where we got the straightest dope on the making of the movie, such as how he got the shots in the hospital!

In recent weeks, I also enjoyed two of my previous raffle victories with VISTA sistas.  For the first, Krishna and I attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the WWII Museum, followed by lunch at the American Sector.  After that, we went into the museum itself and it was hilarious to witness our different paces.  Krishna moved through the exhibits like the New Yorker she is, whereas I moseyed like the New Orleanian I’ve become.  At my speed, I would probably need another three or four visits to get it right!  #sorrydoc  #havefunbackhome  #bestchester

The second raffle outing was with the ever vivacious Sara Green, as we went on a Destination Kitchen foodie tour of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, which included stops at Primitivo, Casa Borrega, Church Alley Coffee, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and Purloo.  It was fabulous, although it may be a slight misnomer to call it just a foodie tour, since it was at least as much of a drinkie tour.  Sara never forgets her VISTA friends even though she’s actually a self-described “grown up” now, having finished her term last year and most recently purchased and moved into a brand new Make It Right home in the Lower Ninth Ward.  I and a few others assisted her with the move and were treated to a delicious meal for our efforts!

On the subject of “blast from the past” VISTA folk, Fernie Reyes and I improvised our own party tour the night after I helped Ms. Green move, focusing mainly on Frenchmen Street and (pretty much) ending at Gold Mine.  Lately, I’ve been alternating Saturday nights there and at Hi-Ho Lounge.  #danceitoff

Although capoeira won’t be part of my “boogie down” rotation anytime soon, I finally checked out one of my roommate Tom’s sessions this past Friday, capitulating to his endless invitations.  He’s quite the aficionado, so it was good to get a glimpse of this Brazilian dance genre, if for no other reason than to be able to visualize what he’s doing all the time.  It actually reminded me a little bit of professional wrestling, mimicking a fight without any intent to injure.  Afterward, we headed out for more of my kind of dancing at Maple Leaf, featuring Cha Wa.  #funknfeathers

Yesterday, the fun was simply off the charts.  In the afternoon, I went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus for the first time with a group of my VISTA pals, and then in the evening, fellow VISTA Renée and I saw Brothers from the Bottom at NOCCA.  The play was about gentrification in post-Katrina New Orleans and starred Wendell Pierce.  It was amazing and the company could not have been better!

Last but not least, if you’re wondering about the yellow-clad gentleman in the first photo above, that’s Chris Strub, who’s traveling the country volunteering in all 50 states.  The day he visited YRNO, he interviewed me about our organization and the current state of New Orleans, which you can watch below.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day!

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One comment on “Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

  1. Jack & Mary Anne Styczynski
    June 21, 2015

    Awesome field report and interview.  You are so SMOOTH!!!!! Will give you a call tonight.  Mom  Gotta go and see if there is a new dispatch from Team 6. Looks like they might make the summit today!

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

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