Can I interest you in a breakfast biscuit?

My first week here is almost over and I am surprised that I am awake, as I have already been up working for eight hours, done PT physical training, and finished my laundry.
I’m just getting used to waking up at 3:30 everyday. Sometimes I kind of regret not choosing the night shift (Noon-8pm). But I’m finding that I definitely don’t waste my day by napping after work. On my first day, I worked a total of 11 hours. The Culinary Corps came to our kitchen and taught us how to cook and clean in the kitchen. The Culinary Corps is a new program that collects professional cooks from around the country and they volunteer to go in to kitchens and cook for groups of people. For free. It was absolutely amazing. I helped make fried tofu and carrot cake. I worked with a chef that was a private chef for a family that lives on a boat and another who is about to publish a cookbook on desserts.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people say how Brad Pitt is all over the news right now for his project in New Orleans. I actually live about 10 miles away from this land of pinkness. So on Tuesday, I went down to the project to take a look for myself. Unfortunately I had missed him by a day…other Corps members actually got to meet him. Booooo. Being here for two months, I will probably be able to see the progress every time I go in to the city.

Yesterday was another 12-hour day of work. I decided to volunteer after work at a school to help organize a book giveaway for teachers in St. Bernard Parrish. Scholastic donated 25,000 books to the school district and all the teachers in the area were able to take a box home with them. It was so great to see how happy they were to just pick out new books for their classroom. I was told that only 5 out of 15 schools in the Parrish are open. One woman was looking through books and there was a book with the title “What You Should Know About Hurricanes”. She said, “I don’t think I want to know anything else. I think I know enough by now.” True.

I think the most moving thing I’ve gotten out of this week was during my orientation on Sunday. The director of Camp Hope talked to us and told us a story of how a man was stuck in/on top of his house for five days during the hurricane. So many rescue boats and helicopters went by him without stopping. This man had lost all faith in mankind and did not believe there was any sort of good in people anymore. Americorps then helped him and after his experience with us he said he now has trust in humanity again. Pretty cool.

Getting Things Done

ILB :0)

Home Sweet Home…ish.

After five days of sitting in a 12-passenger van with 12 people + luggage, we reached our destination. Camp Hope is an old middle school building in St. Bernard where many volunteers stay to help with Katrina relief. It was actually flooded with four feet of water. I am staying on the second floor of the building in a room called “Mardi Gras” with my whole team. It has already been quite the experience.

It is still amazing to see all of the mess that has not been cleaned up yet. There are piles of trash outside of houses, temporary street signs, and FEMA trailer parks. It’s frustrating to see all of these disturbing views after two years. I haven’t been back to New Orleans since December of 2005, and I definitely have noticed improvement. Apartments and new houses have gone up. There is also so much spirit here. Football fans are crazy. And locals do seem so proud of their town.

I hope to do some construction work for my Individual Service Project hours, but I also want to work with the women’s shelter and animal shelter. Hopefully I’ll learn so much here from all of the people I meet and the experiences I have. Can’t wait to tell you about my first week of work!

p.s. I ran into a famous chef yesterday in the french quarter. He said he would love to come work with us so hopefully he’ll come by and teach us a few skills. :0)

Getting Things Done

I – L – B