Students fulfill Goal Three on New Orleans service


Nine Sacred Heart Greenwich students exchanged their daily routines to commit to Goal Three of Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria, a social awareness which impels to action.  The students took part in the school’s annual service trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, February 13 to February 17, to help repair homes damaged by natural disasters.

The group members included senior Grace Danahy, juniors Peyton Lauricella, Lily DeConcini, Claire Chmiel, Arielle Uygur, Christine Guido, Megan Farrell, and sophomores Isabel DeVita and Ceci Duncan.  Chaperones Mrs. Christine Gerrity, Co-Director of College Guidance, Dr. Cilla Bercovici, Lower School Math Specialist and Area Coordinator: Preschool to Grade Six, and Mrs. Beth Carlucci, Fourth Grade Teacher, accompanied the students on the trip.

The Sacred Heart group, an SBP volunteer, and Ms. Gloria spent the day working to repair Gloria’s sister’s home.  Courtesy of Mrs. Kerry Bader

The group stayed at the Duchesne House for Volunteers in New Orleans.  The home offers hospitality, immersive experiences, and reflection for young adults partaking in community service, exploring the history of New Orleans, and learning about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, according to duchesnehouse.orgThe house opened in 2007, named after St. Rose Philippine Duchesne who landed in Louisiana in 1818 to found schools throughout the state’s territory.

Each morning, the students and chaperones began the day with a prayer.  After completing diverse work in the community and different activities each day, they prayed at night before bed.  Each student also wrote her own journal reflection at the conclusion of the trip.

The students volunteered through SBP, formerly known as St. Bernard Project, a disaster relief organization that has efforts in Louisiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, and other areas devastated by natural disasters.  SBP works to prevent suffering after natural disasters through rebuilding efficiently, sharing their model with other organizations, preparing home and business owners through resilience training, advising municipal and state officials, and advocating for policy changes and improvements to the disaster recovery industry, according to

“SBP’s head volunteers taught us about the floods which had damaged homes and tore apart families, which helped us to better understand the importance of our reconstruction and reparations,” Ceci said. “It instilled in us a newfound gratefulness to have all that we do.”

In addition to their service, students spent time in the French Quarter and toured historic sites in the city.  Peyton was originally born in New Orleans and shared her thoughts about returning to the city and having the opportunity to give back to its people.

“Every time I visit New Orleans, I always make sure to go to the French Quarter. Whether it is for mass at the St. Louis Cathedral, having brunch at Stanley’s, visiting the French Market, or simply walking through the Royal and Decatur streets, it brings me so much joy,” Peyton said. “There is a welcoming and warm presence throughout the entire city that makes it feel like a second home to anyone. Additionally, my classmates and I felt so accustomed to the city which made it easy to talk to the homeowners and the true natives.”

Ceci Duncan ’21 working to repair one of the many homes in New Orleans that was devastated by natural disasters.  Courtesy of Mrs. Christine Gerrity

The students began their work February 14, which was also the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting in Parkland, Florida.  To acknowledge the tragedy, the students read reflections about the lives lost during the shooting and watched a music video made by student survivors in the chapel of the Duchesne house.  Shortly after, they began their work at a house in Baton Rouge which had been destroyed by a flood in 2017.

In just the first day at the house, the Sacred Heart group and the SBP volunteers used their strength in numbers to collectively perform 77 hours worth of work.  Claire felt that the group’s commitment to giving back and executing Goal Three contributed to their success at the first location of the service trip.

“During our trip to New Orleans, the whole group truly lived out Goal Three, as we put our desire to relieve the destruction of natural disasters and assist victims to work,” Claire said. “Personally, meeting the people whose homes we were rebuilding and hearing stories about their children was a really moving experience.  I think that this inspired our group to work even harder and allowed us to be successful in working to rebuild their homes.”

After working at the same site for two days, the students moved to a different house.  SBP had only started working at that home on Hartford Street three weeks ago. The damaged site is in a suburb outlying Baton Rouge and had been hit very hard by flooding in 2016.  Several homes in the same neighborhood had repairs that had not been addressed yet.

The group learned that a young family was living in the home in a dangerous mold situation.  For their day at the house, the girls worked on general demolition and mold remediation. The house on Hartford Street was the last location the girls worked at on the trip.  Ceci reflected on the opportunity to hear from a woman who lost her home two years ago to natural disasters, Gloria, and the opportunity to give back to the New Orleans community.

“All in all, we strengthened our friendships with each other and became more responsible leaders,” Ceci wrote in a journal reflection. “We were moved by Gloria’s story and not only felt compassion but learned to be grateful for what we have and that our faith can get us through even the toughest of times.”

Featured Image by Sydney Gallop ’20