It is a great experience being a coordinator. The trip in October was my third trip to New Orleans and it seems every trip is different. Each trip had different rewards in the fact that you can see improvements around New Orleans. Every year you volunteer to help someone who needs your assistance. The first year it was cleaning out a house that had not been touched for thirteen months after Hurricane Katrina. The second year we helped someone who had a bare bones structure without drywall on the walls or doors on the inside. This year it was even a little further advanced in that we were finishing drywall for painting.
The Group was made up of nine adults and seven young men (ages 16-18) from Lebanon County Career and Technology Center. It was a senior project for these seven students and it was a great experience having the boys along. I feel that these young men learned a lot about volunteering, community service and giving to the less fortunate.
Jim Myers, the instructor at Lebanon County Career and Technology Center said, "My students had a wonderful time. We changed lives of not only the students but the people we helped. The students and adults wanted to do more than we did. Our team worked hard and had positive fellowship with each other."
The projects we worked on were hanging and finishing drywall in several houses, fixing roofs, installing new windows and hauling trash. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you are done at the end of the week, because you know that you have made a difference in someone's environment which they are having a hard time overcoming.
The highlight of the trip for me was when I took part of our team and showed them what projects I had worked on in the past. There was this house with nicely painted walls and doors and nice ceramic tile floors. Just to see what has been done since we worked on it last year was so uplifting.
Jim's wife Cindy who also was a participant on the trip said, "it is hard to believe it has been three years and people are still struggling to rebuild their homes. What is even more disheartening is homes that prior mission groups worked on are still not able to be inhabited by their owners. Hopefully something will happen in the next few months to get more people back in their homes."
"Every person not living in New Orleans needs to go on one of these mission trips and see what is really going on down there. We need to rebuild the city and the surrounding area because it is the right thing to do," said Jim Myers.