For Students, NOLA Service ‘Puts Love First’

Ten Brunswick students, along with three members of the faculty, traveled to New Orleans, La., to spend the week working for the St. Bernard Project, a nationally recognized leader in disaster resilience and recovery founded following Hurricane Katrina in February 2006.
SBP has directly rebuilt homes for more than 1,300 families with the help of more than 180,000 volunteers in New Orleans, LA; Joplin, MO; Staten Island, NY; Rockaway, NY; Monmouth/Ocean Counties, NJ; San Marcos, TX; Columbia, SC; White Sulphur Springs, WV and Baton Rouge, LA.
Here is a recap from the “Katrina Krewe” after its week of service in New Orleans:
The final day of our week in New Orleans was filled with mixed emotions, and a quiet commitment to get as far on our project as we could. It was a day we will not forget — the closing chapter of a beautiful experience that has changed all our lives for the better.
Every day this week, our site managers have led us through an icebreaker, followed by instructions on how to tackle the tasks set before us. We did just that, but today’s tasks seemed to carry a sense of sadness with them, if only because we will miss spending time together.
Our day was filled with good memories: singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of our lungs, eating glazed donuts given to us by the site supervisors, and seeing our “Krewe” members tackle each task diligently and enthusiastically. The air was filled with the usual mix of music, and we all worked at a solid pace, covered head-to-toe in drywall.
While each of us seems to have experienced moments of growth — thanks to lessons from Mr. Montanez, Mr. Kirby-Smith, and Mr. Adams — it’s the sheer appreciation of the priorities around us which we find most inspiring. We feel unanimously grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this incredible city.
We understand how fortunate we are to be a part of this, and we are thankful beyond words for the privilege we’ve been given. We are looking forward to bringing the changes we have felt back home, and to continuing to improve our characters. We are grateful for our families and communities and for the non-stop support they give us.
We feel an obligation to practice what we have learned: putting love first. We will do just that every time we see each other at Brunswick and in the future, making sure gratitude is present in our daily interactions. There is a true feeling of brotherhood in our lives right now, because of our love and the willing sacrifices we make for each other.  
On behalf of all of the “Katrina Krewe,” we want to thank our leaders for putting in the effort to create such an amazing trip we will never forget. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Their willingness to open up and share their stories helped each of us relate to each other, and made this trip transformative. Thanks to everyone who is reading.
Until next year, New Orleans. We’ll miss you.

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