Mount students invited to apply for fall 2016 program

Calling all Mount students! Interested in an exciting and rewarding volunteer opportunity?

The Sisters of Charity—Halifax are offering a limited number of Mount students the opportunity to volunteer with the Living Charity program in New Orleans from November 7 to 12, 2016 (the Mount’s new fall study break week). Students will travel with Sisters of Charity—Halifax and Mount representatives and help rebuild a home lost during Hurricane Katrina.

The cost of the trip is paid in part by the Sisters of Charity—Halifax. Learn more here, and also read on for one student’s perspective.

“Small tasks…can make a world of difference.”

Student Robyn Chase (set to graduate later this year) participated in the Living Charity program in February of 2016 (Robyn appears in the centre of the front row in the photo below). Here’s a little about her experience, in her words:

Mount Saint Vincent University encourages students to volunteer and give back to the community. The Mount provides students with annual volunteer opportunities such as Caritas Day and Shinerama. In addition, the Mount offers students unique volunteer trips in other parts of North America. This year, from February 13-18, Scott Daniels (Manager, Co-op Office at the Mount) and the Sisters of Charity Halifax, took 10 students to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Living Charity volunteers - Feb 2016Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005. Ten years later, the city’s population is back to what it was before the storm, but with half the housing options. Organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right,” work hard to bring New Orleanians back home.

The St. Bernard’s Project is another organization still working non-stop to help restore the areas the storm affected most. We were fortunate to work with the St. Bernard’s Project, which offers programs to help New Orleanians find or return to homes. We assisted with their program that helps homeowners return to their previous homes by helping rebuild them.

Our group worked on a 5715 Vermillion Street. The house belongs to Ms. Pam. The storm destroyed her house; she and her daughter had to move nine times in the past 10 years. She was also a victim of contractor fraud and government red tape.

We spent three days working on her house. This involved sanding, mudding, caulking, and priming the house. These small tasks made a huge difference in the house’s aesthetics. After 10 years of uncertainty,
our group helped Ms. Pam come one step closer to moving home. Morgan Mersereau, a second-year Nutrition student, said, “It was an experience that we won’t soon forget. Being able to help a family who needs it while visiting a new part of the world with people who, before this, we never knew, was humbling.”

The beautiful weather allowed us to work hard while having fun and getting to know each other. Each day started with an icebreaker to help us loosen up. Heather Deck, a third-year Nutrition student, said “the trip really showed me that poverty is everywhere, not only in developing countries, and that you don’t necessarily have to travel half way around the world to make an impact on the lives of others.” She added, “I really appreciated being able to stay with locals, as opposed to in a tourist area. This allowed me to experience what living in New Orleans is truly like and gave me a whole new perspective on life.”

After each day of volunteering, we came home to a lovely home cooked meal from the Sisters of New Orleans.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. It was a mix of exploring, volunteering, and learning. I was able to directly help a family, tour Bourbon Street and eat beignets at Café du Monde. How many volunteer opportunities do you come across that let you explore a city, help a family, and enjoy home cooked meals?

This trip gave me a unique perspective on volunteering. I never knew such simple tasks could make such a visible difference. In three days we were able to see the house transform into a home. This trip has given me a whole new passion for volunteering. Small tasks, like sanding and mudding, can make a world of difference.

The deadline to apply for this fall’s LLiving Charity volunteers2 - Feb 2016iving Charity volunteer trip to New Orleans is September 16.