Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Duchesne Center Volunteers Help the People of New Orleans
Monday, 24 January 2011 00:00

From December 18th to the 24th, the Duchesne Center’s Community Service Coordinator, Craig Donnelly, and co-chaperone Tenisha Swift, led five Manhattanville students on a service learning trip to New Orleans.  The group’s activities were sponsored by City of Hope, the volunteer branch of the Adullam church that connected them with different volunteer organizations.

“I wanted to visit new places and help people, so I was more than glad to be part of the service trip to New Orleans,” said Edom Tsegaye, one of the student volunteers.  “It was a life changing experience for me.  It also made me think that I would like to do more to contribute to my home country of Ethiopia.”

Over the past five years Craig has led several service learning trips to New Orleans in order to help the communities still suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  There has not been as much progress made over the past two years as I would have hoped,” he said.  “There is still much work to be done which is why these volunteer trips are so important.”

Since the students arrived in New Orleans in late December, a lot of their activities were related to the holiday season. They brought donated toys to hand out to needy children. Many of the toys went to Children’s Hope, a program that supports children who are living with HIV.

“For me, it’s hard to sum up the experience of the New Orleans trip in a few words, but if I must then the experience was beyond exhilarating,” said Geoffrey Rugarabamu, a student volunteer.  “The positive dynamics of the relationships amongst the New Orleans people after the catastrophe of the hurricane is something that I am glad to have experienced as a young person.”

The group also assisted with the Feed the Children program, a large organization that gives out boxes of food to the needy.  "Participating in this effort was a rewarding experience and a great way to end the year,” said Jaclyn Fernandez, a student volunteer.  “Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces while handing out toys gave us such fulfillment. Participating in the Feed the Children drive was a heartwarming experience.”

Over the course of their stay the students also donated supplies to the needy, helped renovate a Veterans center, and helped move a struggling young family into a trailer that had been found for them by the Adullam church.

“Spending the week at City of Hope was an experience that I will always remember,” said Nicole Bauso, another student volunteer.  “Our guide from the church, Pastor Randy, told us that he still sees suffering every day due to the storm’s ruins, and that he really appreciates having an enthusiastic group of volunteers come to his community to help out, which gives him relief and hope. I am thankful for having this kind of opportunity to volunteer in such a wonderful place that will always remain dear to my heart.”