New Orleans RenewalGAMBIER, Ohio (March 12, 2007) Another busload of Kenyon students, faculty, and staff are spending a week in New Orleans to help in the city's recovery efforts. For many, it's their first trip; for others, like Matt Huber, Class of 2008, it's revisiting familiar territory.
The crew is led by Huber, who has spent at least half of every school break in New Orleans since Katrina hit-including a good chunk of his 2006 summer vacation. He went along on the first trip in January 2006, which was organized by Kenyon chaplain Karl Stevens. "I'd never been on a service trip before," Huber said. "It got me interested, and now I can't stop."
It's hardly a pleasure trip; the suggested packing list includes "clothes that can get gross, N95 rated masks, sturdy footwear (boots if you got 'em!), eye protection, and work gloves." Volunteers work from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., knocking off before the day gets too warm. The volunteers gut individual houses-stripping and removing everything, often untouched since the storm, down to the studs-to prepare them for renovation. They may also help with larger cleanup projects, including a public park.
Several 2006 Kenyon alumni, including Julianne Day, Sam Shopinski, and Caitlin Wells, have been coordinating volunteer recovery work with the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana since graduation. Huber and other Kenyon students have also formed OhioAction to facilitate student involvement in New Orleans cleanup and rebuilding efforts, soliciting volunteers from campuses across Ohio. For more information, go to
Kenyon alumni living in New Orleans-Stewart Peck, Class of 1974, and Renée Brandt Peck, Class of 1975-extended a warm welcome to the crew working last January, inviting all fifty-odd to dinner at their home. The Pecks are looking forward to hosting the newest group again this week.
Lauren C. Ostberg's 2006 online journal. Last year, some sixty Kenyon students boarded a bus March 12 to spend part of their spring break helping to clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Among them was Lauren C. Ostberg, Class of 2007, an English major from Maumee, Ohio. An intern in the Office of Public Affairs at Kenyon, Lauren kept a journal of her experiences in New Orleans over spring break.