I know it took us a while to get to this whole blogging thing, but I am going to try and briefly recap what we have experienced so far here in New Orleans working with Operation Reach and each other.
Allison and I flew to NO on Saturday, while the rest of the group was at the St. Patrick's Day parade on Magazine Street. After acquainting ourselves with Ashley, Tony, Alex, Natalie, Greta, Katie and David, as well as the Xavier University dorm we are staying in, we hung out and talked until bedtime.
Late Sunday morning we drove two hours to Biloxi, Mississippi. We took the scenic route, which was the first time I had seen a great amount of damage. The beach we stopped at was right across the road from what used to be a highly populated resort area/tourist destination with some huge mansions and even bigger casino/hotels. It was strange to see Waffle Houses what seemed like every block, but houses much less frequently. Obviously, a lot of people used to frequent the area, but other than the mega-casinos, barely anything was up and running. The beach was clean, though, and had a magnificent view of the Gulf of Mexico.
Monday morning we showed up at Operation Reach headquarters in downtown NO, only to be told we were needed on the opposite bank -- the same bank as Xavier. Once there, we were told what the rest of the week would look like, what they needed us to do for them (mostly administrative work), and we headed over to Fischer. The next day, David, Tony and I went back to the OR offices in a small community center while the rest of the group went to Fischer for a field trip. We made phone calls and stuffed envelopes, work which was continued by Natalie, Greta and Ashley today.
The work seems tedious, boring, and at times pointless, but as a nonprofit organization barely over a year and a half old, every little bit helps. The more OR staff can delegate menial tasks to other people, the more free time they have to get the bigger, more important things done. We talked extensively about how we are here for them, we are here to do what they need us to do, not what we think is important.
I think some of us are realizing that working with schools and an organization meant to help youth supplement their public school education is an infinitely important use of our time. We have noticed other volunteers around the school and we hope we are making a difference in the lives of the children with whom we interact.
Hannah Kuether and Allison Chapman