Fairfield University students travel to New Orleans to repair homes still heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina


Image: New Orleans Service TripThirty-two Fairfield University undergraduates recently took a service trip to New Orleans, a city that is still in recovery mode despite the nearly seven years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina.

It was just the latest in a series of trips made by the Fairfield campus community to Louisiana. Two staff members and the students - including members of the University's Leaders For Environmental Action at Fairfield (LEAF) - focused their efforts on repairing homes badly damaged in the St. Roch neighborhood. Armed with power tools, drill bits and caulk, they put in new floors and dry walls, installed baseboards and painted.

"In just four days, we were able to transform this house with the little background in construction we had," said Danielle Young '13, a nursing student. "This really shows how helpful we have been and we couldn't be more proud of our work. This experience has shown us all how little efforts can truly make a huge difference in someone's life."

One of the homes Fairfield students repaired belongs to a man who helped save numerous neighbors after the levees gave way. "After talking with him and learning about all the horrific situations he faced, I could not have been happier to help rebuild this man's home," said Dan McGrath '13, of Killingworth, Conn. "He likely saved many lives, 17 alone on the first day of serious flooding in Holly Grove."

Image: Dog rescuedFairfield again collaborated with Loyola University New Orleans and the Washington, D.C.-based Rebuilding Together, an organization focusing on providing low-income or disabled homeowners with "sustainable solutions" through home repair and neighborhood revitalization efforts.

Leading the trip were Alexandra Tarabour, '13, an environmental studies and communication major from Middletown, N.J., Erin Mannix '12, a marketing major from Dover, Mass., and Maura Buckley '12, a sociology major from West Hartford, Conn., along with advisors Colleen McGinn, associate director of alumni relations, and Kimberly LoPiano, program coordinator, Individual Giving.

The effort also involved volunteering at the Jefferson Parish SPCA Animal Shelter, which post Katrina takes in more than 1,000 animals a month. One student fell for and adopted Meatball, a puppy in a pit bull mix litter rescued by the shelter. Renamed Bourbon, he's now happily residing with the student's parents.

"After witnessing an actual dog fight in the middle of a busy intersection, I have realized that not only humans are in need of our help in rebuilding New Orleans," said Bryan Shea '12, an accounting major from Baldwin, N.Y.

Image: New Orleans Service Trip

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

Posted on February 16, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 201

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