It is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and although New Orleans is no longer in the national spotlight, the recovery and rebuilding are far from over.
But Hamline students have not forgotten New Orleans and continue their steadfast service to the community still dealing with the aftermath of the devastating storm in 2005.
Every year, Hamline’s spring break Catalyst trips send students to communities across the country to serve and learn. Students have volunteered in New Orleans for over a decade, though their efforts were redoubled after the devastation wrought by Katrina. In 2011, two separate trips were offered; one focusing on spirituality and faith, and the other engaging with issues of environmental justice.
The former trip partnered with green organizations to rebuild homes with sustainability in mind while the latter worked with various religious groups that came together to help rebuild their city.
“What I’ve strived to do is plan an itinerary for the group that will allow them to hear a plethora of voices and stories,” Matt Petersen, student leader of the environmental justice trip, said. “I want them to see for themselves the current trajectory of this city.”
Jenny Robely, a participant in the 2011 trip to New Orleans, said she wanted to spend her spring break helping others.
“There’s so much left to be done down here and I wanted to do something about it,” Robely, a senior marketing and economics major, said. “Everything we do just adds a bit of hope to their rebuilding process.”
But despite all of their hardships, the New Orleans community remains resilient.
“These people still love living in the Big Easy,” Petersen said. “They’re not giving up on New Orleans, so how could we?”