For the fourth year, the University of New Mexico Dean of Students Office hosted "Alternative Spring Break” in New Orleans." Ten UNM students and two staff assisted Camp Restore, a nonprofit hosting construction effort geared toward helping Hurricane Katrina survivors.
The students spent the week doing service projects that included mucking out stalls at Rescue Ranch, a NOLA non-profit that takes in abused and abandoned horses, and supports the community with services ranging from equine therapy to an intensive after school program; sorting thousands of beads at a recycling center run by Arc of Greater New Orleans; and weeding, tilling, planting and watering at Vintage Garden, a facility that serves adults with developmental disabilities.
Rosstin Ahmadian, a junior studying biochemistry said, “We lost big to some professional Bingo players at the local senior center,” and senior De-Keita Peoples, also studying biochemistry added, “We worked on arts and crafts, indulged in beignets at famous Café du Monde located right on the Mississippi River, and danced to Zydeco music, all of which gave us the opportunity to learn about the city’s culture and the spirit of the people. After having lost so much, the people of New Orleans have not forgotten who they are.”
The students all agreed that the week in New Orleans turned out to be more than just a community service experience. Katiana Torres, a junior majoring in art studio, said "It was a reminder of humanity’s continued resilience in the face of adversity. From mucking out horse stalls to cultivating a garden, every project gave us an opportunity to make a positive impact while learning more about this great city, its inhabitants, and its vibrant history.”
It has been nine years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and still the city continues to rebuild structures and restore morale. “That’s why we do such a wide variety of service work in areas other than just construction,” said Lisa Lindquist, Student Affairs specialist in the Dean of Students office, and part of the ASB group. “The students are involved in work that facilitates rebuilding the community while at the same time engaging with the community. This is more the purpose of Camp Restore now that many areas have been rebuilt.”
Camp Restore partners with more than 50 local non-profits to match volunteers with construction and community projects. It relies mainly on volunteer work to serve community members. For more information, visit: http://camprestore.org/.
Check out the ASB daily blog created by the students as well as a Flickr slideshow of the trip.
Contact Lisa Lindquist at the Dean of Students Office for more information about the trip at (505) 277-3361 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.