New Orleans Is Not Forgotten

From: Public Affairs

Just hours after the end of spring semester 2011, 53 James Madison University students will depart Harrisonburg to continue a six-year JMU tradition and make their own mark on New Orleans' recovery from the effect of Hurricane Katrina.

Since 2005, JMU students, faculty and staff have participated in hurricane relief efforts, first helping with demolition and cleanup and eventually switching to rebuilding. In JMU's fifth May trip to New Orleans, 51 students and their three site leaders one a JMU staff member will work with Habitat for Humanity.

The team will embark on its journey about 10 p.m. Saturday, May 7, to travel overnight and Sunday by bus to the Volunteer Rebirth Center, where members will eat and sleep during their volunteer service week. On Monday, team members will tutor students at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School before joining Habitat for Humanity crews on Tuesday. The JMU team will break into five or six groups to work through Friday on building project already in progress, said Misty Newman, assistant director of Community Service Learning for Alternative Break Programs.

Each student is paying $350 to participate in the service opportunity. Competition was stiff for this year's team, with 150 students signing up in an online lottery for a spot on the work crew.

After the day's work is finished, the JMU students will learn more about New Orleans. Mike Hoss, a JMU alumnus who is a news anchor at WWL-TV, will speak to the team as an eyewitness to Hurricane Katrina's destruction and the subsequent rebuilding of lives and community. The team will visit the New Orleans School of Cooking and tour the French Quarter.

Alternative May Break is part of JMU's award-winning Alternative Break Program, which coordinates opportunities for students to assist people while learning more about societal issues, including homelessness, education, immigration and health problems. The ABP, run through the university's Office of Community Service Learning, is composed of service trips at Spring Break and Thanksgiving, in May and on selected weekends throughout the year.

JMU's Alternative Break Program is a two-time recipient of the Break Away National Program of the Year award in recognition of the university's commitment to active citizenship. Break Away honored the JMU program in 2010 and 1999. The national nonprofit organization supports the development of quality alternative break programs by providing training and information to colleges and nonprofit organizations interested in creating lifelong active citizens.

Related Links:

Service: http://www.jmu.edu/service
Community Service-Learning: http://www.jmu.edu/csl
Mike Hoss' Be the Change profile: http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/people/hoss.shtml

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May 4, 2011