Steve Koehler and his group were in New Orleans during the spring break, helping with recovery efforts in St Bernard Parish. We are pleased to share this story, a true testament of service and Volunteerism
"While MSU volunteers gutted ruined houses, they filled empty spaces in peoples' lives, including their own.
They had gone to Louisiana to clean up after the end of the world. In the process of toiling for a week in the devastated neighborhoods in Chalmette, La., something happened to both the volunteers from Missouri State University and to the residents of the tiny town located down the Mississippi River from New Orleans.
At week's end, the 103 students and a staff member from MSU had a better understanding about the important things in life while grateful residents had their spirits lifted and their lives enriched by others showing them that they had not been forgotten.
"They don't know how much they did for us," said Cindy Bartholomae, in whose neighborhood the students worked. "They gave up their spring break to work in this hellhole."
The students, though, gained a new perspective of their lives and of those in need.
"You fall in love with them," said Emilie Franke, a senior who organized the trip through the New Orleans chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
"There is an emotional connection for us now with the people and the city. We talked to families, and they knew we could be anywhere in the world and we chose to be there. It brought all of us to tears."
The students, wearing hard hats, gloves, masks and boots, worked for a week in St. Bernard Parish, one of the hardest hit areas in Louisiana, where 27,000 homes were destroyed by the hurricane seven months ago.
"It was like cleaning up the end of the world," said Dan Henke, a junior in theater and dance.
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