Serving with Love


Juniors work hard digging up invasive species that are not native to New Orleans and negatively impact the environment.

Last month, the Junior class spent a week in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward serving their community by helping to build houses and spreading environmental awareness. They stayed at a housing complex named Camp Hope which allowed them to be close to the places they were serving. Divided into two groups, the girls were able to focus on specific problems such as Community Development and Environmental Sustainability. The Juniors served at five different programs over the week and left feeling accomplished and like they made a change.

Hurricanes are detrimental for cities like New Orleans which are under sea level but especially for districts like the Lower Ninth. After Katrina, everyone started picking up the pieces of what was destroyed but didn’t know that they would soon experience weeks of flooding. This flooding would be caused by the ocean destroying the delta that protected the city and allowing water to come hurling towards New Orleans. The Lower Ninth’s damage was especially detrimental because a port ship broke the barrier surrounding the district and let tons of water in. Seventeen years after Katrina, 35,000 lots of land are still bare from citizens not returning to this beautiful, culture-filled city. The Lower Ninth has struggled to keep its head above the water (literally) and build their community back. They have had to start completely over multiple times over two decades and are creating organizations to apply for grants and bring people in to help just like the Juniors did.

The Environmental Sustainability group focused on creating a better ecosystem in the Lower Ninth by planting trees to allow a barrier to be made for smaller plants on the ground and the animals living in that area and digging up invasive species that are not native to New Orleans and negatively impacted that environment. “It was hard work digging up those plants but after we were done it was evident that we made an immediate change” says Angela Jacobs about her first day serving. While the first group was in parks, the Community Development group was working in the neighborhood. They picked up trash from sewers and on the side of the road and shoveled dirt to create a level base to lay the foundation for a new house. Ella Woodmansee recalls that “It was really empowering to be able to see the changes we made in these underdeveloped communities and know it would help someone in the long run because that’s what the trip was all about.