Hope after Katrina: Local teens team up for service project in New Orleans

Courtesy photo A group photo of those who went down to assist with rebuilding efforts from top left to right, and then down by row on the stairs: Samantha Summers and Sarah Smith (AmeriCorps Volunteers), Maegan Daniels, Grace Musto, Leeann Palmer, Taylor Barry, Chris O’Herren, Asher Thomas, Abby Tighe, Roman Szydlik, Sara Getchel, Matthew Manning, Eric Carlo, Patty Harding and Larry Harding (standing) and Josh Schupack (kneeling).

The YMCA of Greater Nashua Leaders Club recently returned from a five-day trip to New Orleans, where they embarked on a mental, physical and spiritual journey to volunteering their time to assist with rebuilding efforts left from Hurricane Katrina.

Although the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, efforts are still needed to restore areas people once called home. Three YMCA staffers and 11 teens traveled to Louisiana from Feb. 26-March 3, where they spent three of their five days – working eight hours each day – on two houses before returning home.

“We worked with St. Bernard Project, and they’ve been doing Katrina relief work since pretty much when it happened. There were two houses and two work sites where we painted the exteriors of those houses and did internal work,” said Josh Schupack, sports and teen director of the YMCA of Greater Nashua’s Camp Spaulding.

Schupack said the houses they worked on were in the final stages of being built.

Courtesy photo From left to right, members of the YMCA of Greater Nashua Leaders Club Abby Tighe, Roman Szydlik, (sitting) Leeann Palmer paint while volunteering their time in New Orleans to assist with rebuilding efforts left from Hurricane Katrina.

“When we arrived at the two houses, they had already been framed and had drywall installed throughout the inside,” said trip leader Asher Thomas in an email. “The exterior of the house had been primed in preparation for our painting. On top of us painting the exterior and interior of the houses, one house had begun sanding the sub floors in preparation for the laminate flooring to be installed the week after.”

Schupack added: “If it was just the people from St. Bernards Project,(it) may have taken two weeks to do the work we did in three days. The fact we were able to help get the work done, means the sooner the house will be available for someone to move in and restart their life.”

The Leaders Club has volunteered time locally, but this was the first time doing something like this.

The trip to Louisiana for this intensive service work was made possible because two previous staff members who used to work at the Y’s summer camp program are currently in AmeriCorps in Louisiana.

“They got there and reached out to us and said this is a great thing for you guys to do, and they were kind of our gateway to making it a possibility,” Schupack said.

Schupack said there’s a blog (https://jschupack.wixsite.com/neworleansnashua2018) where people can view more photos and read about the group’s time in Louisiana.

“Overall our experience volunteering was something that I know all of us will remember for years to come,” Thomas wrote.