After a day of tiring and exhausting travel, we woke up bright and early at 6:30 AM ready to get our hands dirty. We ventured out to the dining hall and grabbed a quick bite of cereal and bagels for breakfast. Then we each assembled our sandwich-to-go of choice (PBJ, Tuna, or Cream Cheese), and hopped onto our respective buses. We had been split up into two separate working groups the night before, so our two groups headed off in different directions. I am now speaking only for Group #2. We drove for about an hour and eventually ended up in the neighborhood of Tremé (not sure about spelling) at 1722 Ursuline Road. The house belongs to a woman named Ms. Betty, who lives there with her daughter and grandchildren. There, we met our project leader from the organization Rebuilding Together New Orleans. His name is Oleg. He gave us a quick rundown on how to perform different tasks and how to use different tools. And then we got to work. We partnered with our Syracuse Hillel friends and raised extremely tall ladders, and sent many brave souls to the top to begin painting the Primer coat of paint on the outer walls of the house. Greg Barr, Steph Cantor, Daniel Bain, Aaron Czinn, and Nathan Suberi conquered the great altitudes of the ladders and filled in the empty spaces on the side walls of the house. In the meantime, Justin Fair, Eric Feldman and Sam Blum rose to the top of a roof in the backyard where they painted primer on the back wall. At the front of the house, Wendy Graff, Zoe Barth, Hannah Gerstein, Aaron Czinn and Daniel Bain worked on putting together screen doors. On the side of the house Daniel Camras worked with Oleg to add siding to the outer walls. Throughout the day, our Hillel advisor, Tanya Gutsol, helped out in each of the tasks while making sure to capture all of the action on film. Overall, it was an amazing day of community service, and we all felt accomplished and excited to come back tomorrow! When we returned to the Marina Motel, we settled down, showered, and then headed to the dining hall for a dinner of Red Beans and Rice, salad, corn bread and cake. Yummy. After the meal, we had a group discussion about the meaning of community and chesed. We then went to hear our guest speaker of the night. His name was James Perry, a former New Orleans Mayoral candidate, and current leader of the organization Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Association. He spoke to us a little bit about the history and politics of what happened during Hurricane Katrina. When he finished speaking, our day was complete, and now it is time to relax. After one day, we are all so excited for what this week is going to bring!!
author Aaron Czinn