Le Fer Hall

Reflecting on the Alternative Spring Break Trip

Blog | 04.01.2024

By Savannah Black, freshman, art and marketing major

Students, with Tim Tesmer and Jessie Bellinger, posing in front of a house they helped repair on the Alternative Spring Break Trip

The Alternative Spring Break Trip was a wonderful opportunity to travel with friends while practicing ministry and serving those in need. Our destination was New Orleans, Louisiana. We found it to be an exciting place to explore, with art and culture on every corner. From the abundance of artistry to the impressive architecture that can be seen on Bourbon Street, Jackson Street and the Garden District, there is so much to see that is unique to New Orleans. Amidst the Jazz music and the artistry of the New Orleans bustling streets, there is a looming darker side to the lively atmosphere. It’s the people who sit, huddled with a blanket and a sidewalk view, that divulge a frightening truth about Louisiana’s population. According to Nola.com: “A total of 1,390 people were counted as living on the street or in a shelter on January 23, 2023.” As we walked throughout the New Orleans crowds, we saw firsthand the homeless population living under bridges and sidewalks on just about any street we walked through. I don’t remember going on a single drive or walk without seeing some evidence of people in need. Some of the causes are unique to the area, such as Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in August 2005. Many families bear financial burdens and are threatened with homelessness stemming from this natural disaster nearly 20 years later. 

Our goal was to help make a lasting positive impact on at least one person’s life while we were there. We did this through an organization called Saint Bernard Parish (SBP), whose mission is to “shorten the time between disaster and recovery.” They mainly focus on Hurricane Katrina relief to prevent homelessness. We spent a full week working on a house for an individual we had the opportunity to meet. Had he not been connected with SBP, his house would have remained uninhabitable, and he might have joined those we witnessed on sidewalks outside of shops and restaurants on Bourbon Street. Instead, the team at SBP raised money and asked for volunteers to help fix his house and make it a place he could be proud to own. This is what we got to be a part of! It was fulfilling to see the impact our work made. We met and took a selfie with the owner of the house after laying down two floors, mudding and sanding the walls and cutting and installing trim. 

After work, we often had time for student-suggested activities that involved exploring Louisiana. We spent a few hours at the beach (the Gulf of Mexico), took a bayou tour and came across alligators, tried some authentic New Orleans dishes and walked the busy streets, ending on a true crime tour the last day. All this to say, a big thank you to our chaperones, Tim Tesmer, campus minister at SMWC and Jessie Bellinger, professional advisor and retention navigator at SMWC. They explored New Orleans even after our eight-hour service workdays. We ended nights with a devotion led by Tim and a reflection discussion led by the students.

Savannah Black is a freshman at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, pursuing two degrees in marketing and studio art at SMWC. Savannah is from Greencastle, Indiana and is a commuter student at The Woods. In addition to being a Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholar, Savannah is also a member of the SMWC Dance Team, Service 31 and is an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.

1 Comment

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Sherrie Mansfield | 04.05.2024 at 8:20pm
So wonderful of you all! I love NOLA -- beautiful city, woven with great need. Thank you for serving there!