Today was our first day of volunteering and I can honestly say that it was a great experience. When we arrived we met some of the staff members of Rebuilding Together and the homeowner of the house that we were working on. This house has been in her family for almost 50 years, so making sure that it is habitable and sustainable is very important to her and her family.
After we went through safety protocols I started working on one of the windows on the side of the house. I had to get off the old glaze around the window panes, try to get some of the paint off of the window, prime the window for new glaze and then start to actually glaze the window. I thought that this was going to be a very easy process, but it ended up taking me about three hours to do the first 3 steps. Once I went to re-glaze the window, I was having a hard time getting it to look right. I really did not realize how hard this process is. I was quickly able to see why volunteers are needed in big projects like this. Without us, Rebuilding Together would not be able to help as many families as they do now.
When we finished at the site for the day, we went on a tour of the Lower 9th Ward where a lot of the damage from Hurricane Katrina happened. The first part of our tour involved listening to Warrenetta Banks, the Director of the non-profit organization “Lower 9 Resilient.” We heard her personal story about Hurricane Katrina along with the church’s story. It was very moving and eye opening to listen to her first-hand experience. Afterwards, we heard about another non-profit organization, “Global Green.” This organization aims at rebuilding New Orleans in a sustainable way. We toured one of the five houses that were built as part of the Holy Cross Project. It was a very different and interesting experience to get to see one of the many ways that organizations have tried to rebuild the community. After having these experiences, I am excited to see what the rest of the week brings.