Operation Gulf Coast - 2012 Group 1 Blog
Dear Family, Friends & Supporters,
It’s our final night of a long, hot, and humid week full of physical labor and lack of sleep. However, it was an awesome way to start off the summer. Today we went back to the houses we started off the week with. At Mr. Norman’s house, six of us worked with Kim, our supervisor, to put on the finishing touches of our house. Considering the house is expected to be finished by next week, we were doing a lot of tedious detail work. Tempers were at an all-time high and feuds were frequent, but we worked through it to get a lot of work done. Mr. Norman learned how to lay tile as the rest of us painted and caulked throughout every room of the house while others nailed in base boards and quarter-rounds. We accomplished a lot in our week at the house working together as a team. It was a very satisfying feeling to see the home owner stop by with some of his relatives checking up on our work and showing his appreciation. We wish that we could be around to finish the house, but we look forward to seeing pictures of the finished product. We wish that we could see the reaction of the homeowners.
The other group led by Mrs. Maher and Ms. Forsythe also went back to the same site from the beginning of the week. Today, we continued to install doors with Dave and Jen, but we were also given some new jobs. We painted baseboards, touched up walls with paint, mowed lawns, sanded the edges of door frames and finally painted and reinstalled the doors. Overall, the group enjoyed this day the best as we were able to start on some new jobs. It seems like on the final day the group came together completely and we were able to get a lot of work done. Dave, Jen and the two interns, Sam and Hayden, gave all of us a good speech at the end about continuing our service and the importance of helping others. They also told us to spread the word about St. Bernard’s Project and all of the work there still is to accomplish. Working with them and being able to complete so much work was the most rewarding part of the week.
To close out our grueling but eye-opening week, our group went to the Beach Bar Grill across Lake Ponchartrain to feast and celebrate our accomplishments and laugh about our shortcomings, namely the installation of the doors. The sheer amount of bonding and relationships that were formed over this week could be seen and felt throughout the restaurant, as we debated about the menu, checked in on the baseball team, and most importantly cheered Mike Casey on as he conquered the “Man Over Board.” A beast of a burger, weighing in at 3 succulent pounds, dripping with chilli, potato salad, teriyaki sauce and guacamole, all between two eight ounce patties. Though the final few bites proved too much for him, we all laughed and congratulated him on his valiant attempt.
Small things like these, from cheering for the players in one of many poker games, playing pool together, and talking to one another made it clear that the hard work and devotion that we gave this week for the common goal of bettering a community that none of us actively are part of, really created bonds of friendship and brotherhood between all of us. Though at times these bonds were tested, like when Mark was cutting down trees in his sleep, we all were able to laugh about it the next morning as we groggily made our way to the worksites for the last time. This trip did not only serve as service to the community of New Orleans, but to the community of La Salle College High School Class of 2013; no matter where our lives may take us, no matter what happens down the road, we all will always have the skills learned on this trip, both physical and social, the knowledge that we bettered a community and the friendships we made with each other will always be there to guide us and serve us.
Mike Eife, Austin Kelly, Luke McCann, Anthony Moffa and everyone on Operation Gulf Coast Trip One
on Saturday June 9, 2012 at 12:37AM
Dear Family, Friends & Supporters,
Today we were fortunate enough to have a later day after our excursion to the French Quarter. We started off the day volunteering around Camp Restore by cleaning out the showers while Anthony and Chris had the opportunity to be elbow deep in some urinals. During this time several students went outside with Mr. Norman and had the grueling job of mowing the lawn and weed-whacking in the sun. It was a tough job, but the nine students working made the job go much quicker than expected. Other students took some time after cleaning to sleep in and avoid the wrath of Ms. Forsythe and Mrs. Maher.
After lunch, all of us headed out to volunteer at a later time than usual at a completely new house, this time our site being within Orleans Parish from one to seven. Along Jefferson Davis Parkway we found a house that had obvious signs of damage. Our job today was mainly creating concoctions of spackle to hold together drywall that was recently installed. “Mudding” was new for nearly all of us and had us covered in white dust within minutes. The process was frustrating, but it took our crew of 22 the entire six hours to finish “mudding” all of the cracks as the one house we expected ended up being in fact two row houses owned by the same man. Today we met Sam and Alex, our project managers for the day who were fresh out of college. Sam had just graduated from Tulane and plans on attending graduate school after completing his service with Saint Bernard Project in August. It was difficult for us to imagine taking a break from school and possible career opportunities to take time rebuilding houses in New Orleans. In addition to working at the site, we also had several people walk by and thank us for the work that we were doing. This definitely made what we were doing worthwhile, and showed us how thankful the city really is as no one who talked to us had anything to do with the house we were working on.
After a long day of hard work we came back to Camp Restore to try our first batch of sausage and chicken gumbo. A delicious combination of gumbo, rice, and bread pudding left us satisfied in knowing we tried a New Orleans specialty. Along with Café Du Monde and Po’ boys, gumbo was a great cap to a sampling of the crescent city’s cuisine.
Thank you so much for reading and supporting our mission this week!
John Tyrell, Anthony Sticco, Chris McCrea and all of us on Operation Gulf Coast One
on Thursday June 7, 2012 at 11:01PM
Dear Family, Friends & Supporters,
Today was our day off from working at the work sites, meaning we were able to enjoy a morning of sleep, except for Mark, Preston and Kevin who valiantly volunteered to help with the Breakfast Prep and Clean Up. After Nicco’s cellphone woke the rest of the group up, we unwound in the lounge, watched television, and prepared for the day in the French Quarter. After we dressed as sharp as we could, in hopes to impress a debutante or two, we headed to the SUV’s, piled in, and set off down I-10.
We arrived in Jackson Square around 10, looked over the scenic Moonwalk across the Mississippi, and were awestruck by the scene. Ms. Forsythe took the opportunity to snap a few group photos by the river. We headed to the famous Café Du Monde and enjoyed beignets in the open air and listened to the sounds of the iconic jazz music filing the air.
After a quick visit to the Cathedral of Saint Louis, we headed to the Louisiana State Museum. Inside, we visited the Katrina Museum, which was very informative and moving, and headed upstairs to the more whimsical and entertaining Mardi Gras museum. Once we finished our walk through, we met up with Mrs. Clark, Mr. Norman’s mother-in-law, who led us to the French Market.
Once we arrived in the heart of the market, we were able to part ways and explore the Quarter in groups. Mark, Austin, Sean, Kevin, John, Preston and Mike opted to finish checking out the French Market and its famous Gator Jerky before heading to Royal and Bourbon Street to take in the sights and sounds. Mike, Nicco, Luke, Chris, Vito and Anthony headed straight for the Cajun Cabin to grab some Gator Burgers. Surprisingly, we all enjoyed our various Gator Foods.
Afterwards, we headed to the “Wednesday in the Park,” a free jazz concert in downtown New Orleans, and met the awesome New Orleans Saints cheerleaders, where the La Sallian Gentlemen didn’t hesitate to get some pictures. The funk band, “Gravy,” was a big hit with many of the members on the trip.
After a scenic drive through much of New Orleans, including the campuses of Loyola and Tulane, we stopped at the cleverly named New Orleans Burgers and Seafood Co. and enjoyed Po-Boys, shrimp and complementary ice cream. Afterwards, we headed back to Camp Restore, full and satisfied with our day out, and had our evening prayer service and unwound, preparing for our rigorous day of work tomorrow.
Vito Braccia, Mark Chandler, Austin Kelly and the rest of Operation Gulf Coast Group 1
Feel free to check out our pictures as well at http://www.lschs.org/cf_media/index.cfm?t=1&g=1313. Pictures are under Operation Gulf Coast Group 2
on Wednesday June 6, 2012 at 11:19PM
Dear Friends, Families, and Supporters
Today was a hot one! After waking up and having breakfast our group gathered for a quick Morning Prayer service and then headed off to our work sites. Our smaller group of seven headed back to the site on Chetta Ave. to finish trimming and painting in the heart of St. Bernard Parish. Although the heat was out in full force, we managed to keep unscathed from sunburn. Mike Catalino and Kurt worked on painting baseboards and trim spokes as Mike Eife and Vito were working on caulking, and then using a nail gun to connect the newly painted baseboards. Mike Casey and Nicco worked on caulking, painting trim, using wood putty and setting nails on any doors that needed touching up or a second coat of paint. Lastly, Nicco worked rigorously with the project manager Kim on hanging new doors. Everyone’s efforts resulted in much of the trim being completed which was very positive in that we could see our efforts making a difference. After the day was over we stopped at a snowball stand and were treated to a refreshing snack/drink/solution to end our hot, but busy day.
Our second of sixteen embarked on a 30 minute drive to the house on Riviera St; the western part of St. Bernard’s Parish. We were once again welcomed with open arms by Dave and Jen, the two project managers of the house. The house was late in its development but still had some minor adjustments before it could be sold to the community. Away from the house, Jake, Austin, Luke and Mrs. Maher braved the urban jungle by cutting four foot tall grass and pulling a multitude of weeds finishing with an open lot that proved difficult but manageable for the guys working. Inside the house, Anthony and Ms. Forsythe continued their first day duties by tiling the area around the bathtub; a task which has proven to be much harder than it sounds. Finally, the rest of the group continued to work on their carpentry duties of installing doors. Like the first day, we came out of the demanding eight hour day sweaty and tired, but we feel that we have proved ourselves capable of being able to make a difference in the community and try to change the lives of needy people in this region.
After the grueling day and the imperative showers, the students enjoyed a delicious dinner of baked chicken, mashed potatoes and mixed veggies made again by our fantastic cook Lorraine. We all had a grueling day but tomorrow, it is off to NOLA for a day of sightseeing and a better understanding of the New Orleans community.
Nicco Baratta, Kurt Lutter, Preston Murray and all of us on Operation Gulf Coast 1
on Tuesday June 5, 2012 at 11:35PM
Dear Friends, Family, and Supporters,
When we arrived on June 3, 2012, we were amazed by the amount of heat and humidity in Louisiana. Unlike what we left on Sunday morning, it does not compare to the heat in the Philadelphia area. Today, June 4, 2012, we arrived at the headquarters of the Saint Bernard Project. We were shocked when we heard that of the 49,000 houses that existed in Saint Bernard’s Parish, ten were not destroyed. After hearing this, we broke up into two groups and went to two different houses. Six students went to a small two bedroom house on where we were greeted by the family and the supervisor of the construction, Kim. She was friendly and welcoming, and was very willing to help us as we performed our jobs. The three main jobs that we undertook were cutting and trimming base boards, caulking around doors, and painting baseboards and doors. This was a first time experience for all of us, and we learned rather quickly. By the end of the work day, the family returned to the house and was very thankful for our hard work and effort. We were very pleased with the work we had done, and we look forward to finishing what we started.
The second group of us and our faculty leaders worked in a neighborhood affected by the floods during Hurricane Katrina. Dave, Jen, Andre, Mary, and Alex met us in front of the home we were going to work on all week: a five bedroom, three bathroom home (the biggest property that they have ever worked on). After Dave gave us instruction on how to apply door frames and doors to the home, we split up and began work. While most of us were working on the doors, Jen took Preston, Kevin, and John to start cutting and trimming various properties owned by the St. Bernard Project in the neighborhood. Although it was extremely difficult cutting the lawn in the heat, we were able to cut and trim four lawns. The rest of us worked indoors but still experienced the stifling heat of New Orleans. While Ms. Forsythe and Anthony worked on tiling an upstairs bathroom, the rest of us worked on carpentry projects. The most frustrating part of the day for Sean, Mark and Austin was installing door frames. However, when the day was over, all of us felt as though we had accomplished a great amount of work and had already helped the cause.
We arrived back at Camp Restore after our day or work and experienced a Traditional New Orleans Monday night meal: red beans and rice. Everyone was surprised at how great it was. After dinner we joined in a reflection period led by five students. We are enjoying our time and look forward to another day’s work tomorrow.
Kevin O’Donnell, Mike Casey, and Sean MacIntosh and all of us on Operation Gulf Coast 1
on Monday June 4, 2012 at 11:18PM