Hurricane Katrina: 6 years later, there's still a lot of work to do
DeSales' summer alumni service trip helps those still trying to rebuild
This past June, ten DeSales alumni made their way down to Arabi, Louisiana, a small city near New Orleans that still has still not fully recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Even after six years of relief programs and volunteer efforts, many families are still struggling to get their lives back on track. The alums spent four days assisting St. Bernard’s Parish in helping two such families.
10 alums + 2 days = 1 new house
Mary and Lloyd Toucheque’s house was destroyed during Katrina, and they were still having trouble rebuilding their new home. DeSales alumni helped the couple by painting the base, putting up siding, and laying down concrete. In just two days, their house was completely finished.
“It feels really good to help out a couple like that,” says Dug Salley ’07, director of alumni relations, “The people are so nice and are very appreciative.” The Toucheque’s thanked the workers by cooking meals for the hardworking alumni.
Removing radioactive walls
After two days working with the Toucheques, the alums moved on to the home of Vince and Whitney Petric. After buying their home after Katrina, the couple soon realized that the drywall in the house was radioactive. With no money or insurance, it seemed they had nowhere to turn. But the team of alumni revamped the whole house, pulling drywall, screws, and nails.
“Seeing the looks on their faces really makes you want to do more,” says Salley. “You don’t think you are doing a lot, but this is life-changing to these families.”
The alumni service program has been active for a few years. It is organized by Jaime Gerhart, director of the Center for Service and Social Justice. Its purpose is not only to help out communities but to foster and develop friendships among DeSales alumni, as well.
Salley was excited before leaving for Louisiana, though he wasn’t sure what to expect on his first alumni service trip. However, after spending just four days helping others, he is already planning to go on the service trip again next summer.
A future of service for past students
Salley hopes to recruit even more alums to attend next year’s service trip. He said he couldn’t have imagined the depth of the connections he made in four short days and that everyone working hard toward one common goal made it even better. “The interactions with the other alumni are fantastic,” Salley said. “You get to talk and work with many people whom you’ve never known and probably wouldn’t have known otherwise.”
For DeSales University, the service trip was not only successful in rebuilding homes, but also in continuing to build the reputation of the University.
“Service to others is one of our goals at DeSales,” Salley said. “Helping people who are in need makes everything worthwhile. I already want to do it more — it’s addicting.”
- Bob Campbell
Press Release: DeSales summer alumni service trip helps those still trying to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina | Posted on: 8/25/2011
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu