Heller Students Volunteer in Louisiana during Spring Break

April 25, 2007

Heller students with Emergency Communities volunteers.
As part of Heller’s annual Alternative Spring Break Program, funded through the generosity of the Heller School’s Alumni Annual Fund, a group of 17 students from the MA, MBA, and MS programs spent their spring break in Louisiana helping to rebuild communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.

The Heller students traveled to Buras, the town in southeastern Louisiana where Katrina first made landfall on August 29, 2005. Over eighteen months later, the town and its citizens are still struggling. Many families who lost their homes during the storm currently live in 2-bedroom trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with some of the trailers housing six or seven people.

Into this disaster zone stepped Emergency Communities, an organization that provides meals, after-school programs, laundry facilities, and Internet and phone access to individuals and families displaced by the hurricane. The Heller group’s volunteer work with Emergency Communities included cooking, painting churches, gutting homes, and cleaning up yards. Two of the Heller students from Vietnam helped with translation for Vietnamese fishermen in the area and their families. Other students assisted with the after-school programs held in the FEMA trailer park, helping children with their school work and listening to the families tell their stories.

“Volunteering in Louisiana was an experience none of us will ever forget,” said Jane Lang, MBA Program Coordinator and student, who helped organize the trip. “We hope we can continue to help in community-building there.”

Refrigerator in tree post-Katrina Building in post-Katrina Louisiana House in post-Katrina Louisiana

Scenes of destruction and chaos are still all-too common more than eighteen months after Hurricane Katrina hit southeastern Louisiana.

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