10th Grade Siyyum Tichon Community Service Trip
A hero, according to a victim of Hurricane Katrina, is a person who willingly gives up their time in order to help people whom they don't know. "Heroes" are what we have been called for the entire trip. In that sense we guess we are heroes. Before this trip, our knowledge of the damage wrought by Katrina was limited to what we saw on television. This damage could not be more apparent than when we arrived to our service project on the first day and saw nothing but empty lots, foundations with no home and stairs that led to nowhere. Neil spared no chance to take us to see the results of Katrina, whether it be a museum giving us a firsthand perspective of the Hurricane and its aftermath, or a destroyed Cypress swamp that allowed the surge to devastate the neighborhood in which we worked. It was at these points that we truly understood the havoc created by this storm. Blue pillars in the street indicated how high the water was, these poles were up to thirty feet high. Seeing a dry blue pole in a street is nothing compared to seeing a wall of water that high coming to take everything. Many people, including the owner of the house we were working on, watched helplessly from their rooftops as their entire neighborhood floated by.
Our community service took place in the lower ninth ward, through an organization called lowernine.org . We sanded, primed, and painted the interior of a house whose owner has been waiting for his house to be fixed for nine years. The work is hard and the days are long, but we see the value in our work, so that makes it even more worthwhile. We are really experiencing hands-on Tikkun Olam.
When we all walk through the city covered in paint and dry wall people constantly stop us and thank us for our work. If we made an impact on at least one person, this trip would be more than worth it.
All of the people we met on this trip had truly touching stories that made us understand the horrors of Hurricane Katrina and how much our volunteer work means to the people that reside in the city of New Orleans.
Connor Dedrick and Rachel Hecht on behalf of the Siyyum Tichon class: