Fairfield University's Green Campus Initiative (GCI) seeking donations for student-led trip to build houses in New Orleans


Image: Service trip to New OrleansFairfield University's Green Campus Initiative (GCI) is planning to take its second entirely student-led 'sustainable' service trip to New Orleans, where it plans to build and repair houses for residents left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

Founded last year with the goal of advancing sustainability projects on the Fairfield campus, the eco-friendly organization hopes to integrate the ideals of urban social justice, environmentalism and long-term sustainability by rebuilding homes in January. Parts of New Orleans still have not recovered despite the more than four years that have passed since deadly and catastrophic flooding destroyed homes there. Abandoned houses still dot its landscape.

Alexandra Roem, a Fairfield senior who is GCI's president, took part in the group's first service trip earlier this year when they repaired the damaged home of New Orleans resident Macy McDonald. "New Orleans is still in utter despair. The news crews seem to have left long ago and displaced residents have been forgotten yet again."

The rarity of a wholly student-led service trip makes this trip completely unique to the Fairfield University campus, she said. Two dozen Fairfield students plan to work with Rebuilding Together, an organization striving to revitalize communities. The Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, providing critical repairs to the homes of low-income Americans, fills a pressing need in struggling communities, and that is why GCI volunteered to link with it. The organization promotes sustainability by using building materials that are reused, recycled or that leave a minimal environmental footprint - a major attraction to GCI students.

The students are seeking donations to cover costs for the 24 participants of the service trip. "We are fundraising the whole trip and have to cover expenses such as lodging, flight, ground transportation, volunteer fees and meals," said Roem, of River Vale, N.J., who is co-directing the trip with Chris Staysniak, a senior, and Zachary Tesoriero, a junior.

To make a donation, contact Roem at alexandra.roem@student.fairfield.edu.

The budget for GCI's January 2009 service trip was approximately $34,000, an amount the 38 student participants were able to raise within two months. Under the student-led structure of GCI, university administrators, faculty and staff help students identify and pursue their own pro-environmental projects, passions and interests that intend to have long-term impact on the Fairfield campus. An edible rooftop garden, a bio-diesel campus fuel program and recycling audits are some of the projects in the works.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 4, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 144

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