Students find inspiration through service in New Orleans

Convent+of+the+Sacred+Heart+students+and+chaperones+worked+to+rebuild+a+home+in+New+Orleans+January+17+through+January+24.%0ACourtesy+of+Courtney+Smith+%2717

Convent of the Sacred Heart students and chaperones worked to rebuild a home in New Orleans January 17 through January 24. Courtesy of Courtney Smith ’17

Eight Convent of the Sacred Heart Upper School students traveled to New Orleans January 17 to rebuild a home for victims of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. This annual service trip ended January 24 as the students finished adding final touches.
Director of Campus Ministry, Upper School Community Service, and Summer Enrichment Mrs. Lori Wilson and Physical Education Teacher and Coach Ms. Lindsay Thompson led six juniors and two sophomores on the tenth annual trip. In order to refurbish the home, the students and faculty leaders repainted walls and ceilings, and measured, cut, and built baseboards for the walls.
The group worked with the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit organization established to rebuild homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina by providing families with supplies and volunteers to complete the construction process.

Sophomore Emily Lencyk and juniors Alana Maguire and Nicole Schonander help to renovate a home in New Orleans.  Courtesy of cshgreenwich.org
Sophomore Emily Lencyk and juniors Alana Maguire and Nicole Schonander help to renovate a home in New Orleans.
Courtesy of cshgreenwich.org

In addition to rebuilding a home, students were able to reflect on their experiences and immerse themselves in the culture of New Orleans. The volunteers stayed at the Duchesne House, a volunteer housing organization, for the duration of the trip.
Students visited tourist attractions including St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Louisiana’s State Museum, Academy of the Sacred Heart, St. Louis Cathedral, and the Ninth Ward, one of the neighborhoods Hurricane Katrina damaged the most. Students also toured Tulane University.
Over the course of the trip, the volunteers were able to talk to those affected by the storm.
“We met a man named Robert Green who is a Katrina survivor. When we pulled up to his house he had a tent with t-shirts, mugs, and flyers with pictures and slogans created after the hurricane that people could buy,” sophomore Courtney Smith said. “To hear his story and to see this man who has suffered so much really inspired me. He decided to find joy in the world instead of remaining bitter.”
As a new student this school year, Courtney was excited to discover the service opportunities available at Sacred Heart. She immediately took the chance to engage in the hands-on community service offered in Louisiana.
“I think it’s a really good way to become involved in the school. I’ve always loved community service and I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” Courtney said.
Mrs. Wilson views the trip as a time for students to educate themselves on issues outside of the Sacred Heart community. She believes that after viewing the destruction in New Orleans firsthand, students will have a deeper respect and understanding for the city.
Convent of the Sacred Heart students and chaperones worked to rebuild a home in New Orleans January 17 through January 24. Courtesy of Courtney Smith '17
Convent of the Sacred Heart students and chaperones worked to rebuild a home in New Orleans January 17 through January 24.
Courtesy of Courtney Smith ’17

“Girls who ​participate​ have the possibility of being transformed,” Mrs. Wilson said. “The world becomes a place where ​justice issues can be seen and the girls realize they are needed​. ​They can orient themselves towards making a difference.”
Students at Sacred Heart are also able to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina without traveling to New Orleans. Seniors Ellie Denson and Molly Carroll formed the club Katrina Krewe after their first trip to Louisiana in 2013 to inform students about the devastating effects Hurricane Katrina still has on the community. All funds raised through the club are sent to the St. Bernard Project.
Although New Orleans continues to recover from the storm, the resilience of the residents amidst a difficult time inspired students.
“They went through such a hard time trying to get back on their feet and trying to find a new job and restoring belongings,” sophomore Emily Lencyk said. “I admire them for their determination and perseverance.”
-Morgan Johnson, Staff Writer