Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
Five College Calendar
Smith eDigest
Submit an Idea
News Archive
News Publications
Planning an Event
Contact Us
News & Events

Students Return to Big Easy

A year and a half after the devastation in the Gulf Coast region from Hurricane Katrina, large blocks of coastal communities, such as many parts of New Orleans, remain uninhabitable with crude infrastructure and minimal housing.

Next week, during spring break, more than 80 Smith students and another 20 from the four area colleges will travel to New Orleans to help build homes for people who lost their houses during Hurricane Katrina.

The Five College team will join forces with more than 11,500 college students dedicating their spring breaks to the Habitat for Humanity “Collegiate Challenge” in New Orleans.

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit agency that builds and rehabilitates homes, using volunteers and donations of money and materials, for people in need in an effort to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness.

Smith and other Five College students have volunteered with the agency for the past two spring breaks, traveling to South Carolina in 2005 and to Florida and New Orleans last year. This year’s group of about 100 students will join teams working to build 70 homes in New Orleans’ St. Bernard’s Parish and Upper 9th Ward for displaced musicians and other families. Those two communities were among the most devastated during the 2005 hurricane.

In addition to building houses, the Smith and Five College students have teamed to raise about $15,000 for Gulf Coast relief efforts, says Chandler Patton ’07, chair of Smith’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Chandler Patton ’07 cleans up last year in New Orleans

“The ultimate goal of this trip is to work with New Orleans residents so that they can move back to the city to be part of the rebuilding process,” she said. “Each student will be part of different projects, and hear different stories.”

Patton, who has worked with Habitat for Humanity since her early high school years, has served on the organization’s National Campus Chapters Advisory Board, and helped re-charter the Smith chapter during her first year on campus.

“My first day working for Habitat I helped put up dry wall with the woman who eventually moved into the home,” she recalls. “I loved that I was working with her, as a partner in building her home.”

Patton has been involved in every Habitat for Humanity spring break trip while at Smith, including a trip to New Orleans last year.

“We work hard during the day and we will have a great time enjoying all New Orleans has to offer in the evening,” she says. “For me, it is about balance. Last year, when I was in New Orleans, we would go in our work clothes to Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets.”

After they return, the students plan to compile photo exhibits documenting their experience, and schedule forums and lectures to discuss issues around the Katrina catastrophe, Patton said.

“We hope that after this trip we will be able to continue to educate and inform the Smith community about poverty housing in New Orleans, in our community and around the world.”

3/14/07   By Eric Sean Weld
DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z