Thursday

Today my group went to a nature park and helped clean up a few trails. We trimmed a bunch of trees so that they were in the way, cut down a bunch of weeds growing on the path, and exterminated a lot of plants that were killing others. The tour guide/trail guy knew a lot about the trail and the wild life that lived there, so I learned a lot too. I really liked working outside. The weather was great and I love being outdoors, so today was fun for me. We also got to experience the culture down here today when we had a swamp tour and messed around in New Orleans a little. This whole experience has been really fun and rewarding, so I definitely recommend this trip.

Wednesday

We met the owner of the house we have been working on today! It was so humbling. She started to tear up when she said goodbye and that’s when everything really hit me. She hasn’t lived in her house since August–hearing that broke my heart. Being able to meet her and hear her story made me realize that we weren’t just building a house. We were rebuilding a home that she lived in for 20 years. It’s so easy to get lost in the motion of doing things, not really thinking too much about it. Today I was reminded of the reason behind our hard work.

Tuesday

Today was the first day we worked construction. The house my group went to needed a lot of insulation done, so we were covered in micro glass by the end of the day! The house got so hot that the windows were fogging up, even when they were open. But the daughter of the lady who owned the house stopped by and it was so cool to meet her! She was so nice and grateful for our help. That was really neat to meet her, it gave purpose to our help. She showed us pictures of the flood and how much water surrounded everything, and that was crazy to see. I didn’t know much about the flood until this trip, so seeing the pictures and videos really put everything into perspective.

Louisiana 3/20-23

For my second trip with Alternative Spring Break we took a long drive down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Last August this area suffered from a thousand year flood that claimed 13 lives and cost $15 billion in property damage.
On our first day we arrived at the Greater Baton Rouge Good Bank, helping sort through donations with the help of a talented local DJ, and later traveled to a school to help with an after- school program. The food bank was not spared from the flood and was still undergoing renovations. I thought the food bank was a testament to the community of baton rougue, that even when they were hurting their primary focus was still providing for others.
Our second and third days were spent with the amazing people at All Hands Volunteering, an organization dedicated to average people helping others in need. I luckily worked with the painting crew! We finished the house a day early, which meant its owner was one day closer to moving home after 6 months of remodeling. The people I met through All Hands are really the hope of humanity, people who choose to help others because they would wish for the same in a time of need.
On our last day I worked with BREC, who develop and maintain the parks system in the Baton Rouge area. We got to help build and clear a nature trail!!!! This was a highlight of the trip because it spoke to my interests in conservation. It also gave me a better perspective of the complexities surrounding the cause of the flood. All in all I have really enjoyed my time in ASB, and all of the friends and memories I have made through it!

Spring Break in Louisana

Day 1:  We left at 5 am from campus.  I was surprisingly awake early and on time because well I did not go to sleep that night.  I ended up running to the bank, Walmart, and McDonald’s that morning before I got to the bus.  After driving for a bit we stopped in Springfield to switch drivers. After leaving Springfield I tried finding my motion sickness medicine and it was nowhere to be found.  Luckily AT brought extra that I was able to use.  We stopped for lunch at Zaxby’s, which was on the outside of Memphis.  That night we finally got to the camp and we had pizza at the dinning area.  We picked our bunks in the cabin and then had a little talk with the camp director Steve before going to sleep.

Day 2: This was our first day of volunteering, and we went to a food bank.  We had to get up and be at breakfast by 6:15 a.m.  I was not a happy person having to wake up this early, but I made it early to breakfast.  At the food bank we did a lot of packing certain goods into boxes, sorting items, making boxes, and taking inventory.  When busy at the food bank the experience was fun.  During the down time we hung out as a group and did different activities to get to know each other and have fun.  That afternoon we went to the Boys and Girls Club where I did a lot of hula-hooping with this young little girl named Breanna.  I had a fun time getting to play and hangout with the kids because I love working with kids on a daily basis.  That night we did not have anything specific we were doing besides going back to the camp and eating gumbo for supper.

Day 3: This might have been one of my favorite days on this trip.  We went to All Hands and got split up into groups.  My team leaders name was Johnny and he was from the Kansas City area.  I actually chose his group because during the time we chose he told us to join his group.  We figured why not and signed up for him.  Johnny brought us back to Tara’s house that got damaged by the flood.  I learned how to dry wall that morning, then we broke up into groups and continued to dry wall the entire day.  During our bathroom breaks, Johnny bought us beignets, which are a southern dessert.  That night we went to a buffet and then some people got frozen yogurt afterwards.

Day 4: We went back to our All Hands houses today.  My group continued to dry wall and finish up the closets that we had started the day before.  We got beignets again today while at the gas station.  It was fun at the end of the day seeing how much my entire group got accomplished dry walling in the house the two days we worked.  This night when we went back to camp we had fettuccine alfredo and then a All Hands presentation afterwards.  It was nice getting to see the different places that All Hands has worked.  It was also cool getting to hear the different stories about the people who worked for All Hands.

Day 5: Today we got to decide if we wanted to go back to the Food Bank or go do environmental work.  By this day I wanted to do something hands on and get tan while doing it.  So I chose to do the environmental work, which ended up being to help clear a nature trail.  I started out having clippers to help clip tree branches that were in the way.  On the trail I found a log on its side, which me being me decided to walk across it.  My mistake because then I was looking around and saw a snake on the floor.  I screamed SSSSNNNNAAAAKKKKKKEEEEE and jumped off and ran away.  From then on I was freaked out trying to clean the pathway.  I did however learn how to use a saw and cut down several trees while clearing up the trail.  After we finished cleaning up the trail we headed down towards New Orleans for a swamp tour.  We saw an alligator and several wild hogs on the tour.  When the tour was finished we went down to downtown New Orleans.  Here we broke up and groups and got to eat and explore the area for a short amount of time.  It made me excited to be able to go back down this summer with my family to explore the city more with them.

Day 6:  We were supposed to leave this day at 9 a.m. and we ended up being told that our bus was broken down.  We spent the entire day lazying around until the bus got there that night.  That morning I woke up with a fever and did not do anything but sleep on the floor of the cabin.  That night when I felt better I explored around the camp on trails and a bridge that we found.  We finally left that night at 7 p.m. and I was excited to head home.  I was nervous about the timing of when we would get back because I had to leave early Saturday to head to Columbia.  We ended up making it back where I had a few minutes to spare and meet Kassie Saturday.

I just want to give a huge shout out to everyone who helped make this trip happen for me: mom, dad, Barbara, Jim, grandma, and grandpa.

Baton Rouge-Day 3

All Hands Volunteer Day 1

Today we worked with an organization called All Hands Volunteer, we worked at homes that were effect from the flood. I woke up at 5am to shower and get ready for our first day, it was exciting and most of our cabin braided each other’s hair. We eat breakfast and I helped again with clean up. Our bus arrived and Phillip aka the Bus driver- coolest guy ever, drove us to All Hands bus camp. We were given shirts to wear, then we all had a meeting about what we were going to be doing today. At the meeting we were given some information about what we would be doing at the sites. I volunteered to work at Clifford’s House and helping him by painting inside his home. I worked with Amanda and Hannah from our ASB group, and John and Geoff were staff and volunteers that had been working with All Hands before. Geoff was the leader of our group and told us what we needed to work on. I had fun working with Geoff and John, but they had very opposite personalities. John was the talkative person who would talk in any situation and Geoff tried to never say anything or tried to say very little, it was my goal to have Geoff laugh or say anything to me. Amanda, Hannah, and I worked on cutting and rolling the paint; cutting means that we would make a swoosh toward the trim or ceiling. Rolling means we would get rollers and make large strokes up and down. We worked until lunch playing my music and working at our own pace because we learned that they planned for us to finish painting on Thursday. Since the hose didn’t have plumbing we left to find a gas station, we used to bathroom then went back to the house to eat. At lunch is when I learned more about All Hands and about John and Geoff’s lives as well as more about Amanda and Hannah. Once lunch was over we got back to work and we realized that we were almost done cutting. We started rolling in all of the rooms while Clifford brought us a new jug of primer for the kitchen. When we arrived the kitchen was this really bright and ugly yellow, Clifford didn’t like it so were to change the color. We got the primer a little after lunch, so we finished rolling the rooms and started cutting in the kitchen and mud room. By that time we had a rhythm of how we wanted to paint and all 5 of us worked together to get the room finished and cleaned up before we had to be back at 4:30 at the All Hands spot. Once we got back to the All Hands spot, Amanda, Hannah and I ran over to Walgreen’s because we were still waiting for another two vans to come back. Once back at camp, we showered and got ready to head out and get dinner. We actually went out for food at a place called Central Buffet, it wasn’t that bad and I got to talk and hang out with Phillip. After dinner we walked to a fro-yo place, we took a bunch of photos and added everyone on snapchat. I taught Phillip how to use snapchat and what a bitemoji was and how to create one. It was a fun night because I got to hang out with everyone and we were able to talk about what we did that day since we all split into different groups. Once we got back to camp a lot of people wanted to play cards and hang out. We played BS and 21 and just played music, laughed and hung out. I got tired and went to bed eventually, but I found out the next day that they stayed up and had a bonfire.

Baton Rouge-Day 2

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank Day

Today was our first day in Louisiana and we were all tired and not morning people. Every day we had four people help set up for breakfast and dinner, than have at least 8 people help with cleaning up. Breakfast was at 6:30am and I woke up at 5:30, I was one of the first few people awake. After breakfast we hoped onto the bus, when we were leaving camp our bus was stopped by the Mighty Mega Mini Muffin Fairy (or Steve in a colorful Grandma dress and a blonde wig with a roasting stick with a mini muffin on it). The Mighty Mega Mini Muffin Fairy gave us a pep talk saying to make The Hoo Doo, that You Doo, that You Doo, so well. Once the Muffin Fairy left the bus, we left the camp and headed to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. However, we went to the wrong location then couldn’t find the Food Bank and were a little late. Once at the Food Bank I had a great time, we would do multiple jobs. We took certain food groups and weighed them for families in need. The whole day the main guy at the Food Bank, Mark played his DJ tracks loudly and we jammed out while working. After we finished boxing those goods we were to take a break and wait until two local schools fund-raised goods were delivered. The food was late so we took our lunch break and a few people sat outside and tried to tan. The hour lunch lasted roughly 115 minutes because they didn’t have anything for us to do until the food came in so we played musical chairs, human knot, and the game were you make eye contact with people. We included the other group that was there volunteering in our games. The food arrived and we practically ran toward the food bins because wanted to start working again. Personally I felt like I wasn’t doing anything productive and helpful to those in need. There were three POD containers that were delivered and we organized and finished those within 2 hours. It was awesome to see everyone working together and being efficient to try and get as much done. We left and went to a School to work with an organization called the Boys and Girls Club. At the school we worked with students do their homework than when they completed their homework they got to go to the gym and play games. I worked with a 4th Grader named Carson, and I helped him work on his math assignment. We worked on line plots and fractions, it was fun and interesting to see how I would teach someone. Also how bad or good I am as a teacher. That was the end of our service but we went back to the Camp Istrouma to prepare for dinner and I stayed behind to help clean up from dinner. At the end of dinner we went back to our cabins and got ready for bed.

Baton Rouge-Day 1

Travel Day-

Today was the day that we are starting our trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I woke up at 3 am to finish packing and make Hannah S. breakfast. The bus was supposed to arrive at 4:30am because then we are able to pack the bus and leave at 5am. HOWEVER, the bus couldn’t find the lot that we were in and got lost on campus, so the bus arrived at 5am. Hannah S. was staying at my apartment and was going on the trip, I wanted to make sure that were there early enough to get a good seats on the bus. We were parked in lot 62 at 4:35 and there were already 5 other cars parked. I could tell that everyone was excited to get on the bus and start our adventure. However, you could tell that a lot of people were tired and not really morning people at 5am. I was trying to stay peppy for everyone else, even Maddie Y. Once the bus showed up, we loaded bus really fast and everyone found their seats trying to figure out how they were going to sleep on the bus. We left Maryville at 5:30, It was my goal to stay awake the whole trip but I was up late the night before doing homework that was DUE DURING spring break (not cool). I fell asleep right after passing Platte City and the bus slept until we reached our first stop. We stopped in Springfield, Mo and changed bus drivers then traveled down the road for breakfast. Throughout the day, I would sleep or read a book. Nothing really happened other than travelling through Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. We arrived at Camp Istrouma at 9:40, Steve our coordinator provided dinner then we all went back to our cabins and went to bed.

ASB Reflection

Hey everyone, I just finished up this ASB experience. On Thursday I went back to the food bank (we had the option between environmental and food bank). That night we got to experience a bit of Louisiana culture and shop as well. I loved the food bank the second day because the director is super nice and we had a great time. Also a group from the local high school came to help. They were special needs students and it was so fun. We had a dance party and were efficient while sorting through the food. The best experience is because I am wanting to be a special needs teacher so this allows me with a win-win situation! I got to help serve while interacting and getting to meet special needs students. There are always those situations where you realize how easy it is to serve– it really puts into perspective how easy it is to serve. I hope everyone there also took that lesson away because they were hard workers and easily joined us for some work and fun.

Visiting New Orleans and going on a swamp tour was pretty neat both to see a bit of Louisiana culture but it also allowed us to bond too! Seeing all the shows in the middle of downtown is super neat and a huge difference between here and Missouri. I really enjoyed this experience and I can’t just pinpoint the best moment but I’ll share some. One of my favorite was working at the food bank the second time as stated before. I didn’t get to meet the home owner like I had wished but that’s okay because I still have a good idea of how much this volunteering means to them, plus I got to hear some other stories. The staff we worked with on the house were amazing and so fun to be around it made work not seem as much work as it was. I really enjoyed talking to them and asking about their life, how they got into volunteering and etc. My leader Paul has been to all 50 states and travels a lot and Dave is retired and still values his time to volunteering– such big hearts. Overall the best part is knowing why I came here and forming those relationships with people I met as well as this ASB group. It was a blast and I have stories that I can pass on and for sure will.

Baton Rouge

This alternative spring break trip to Louisiana has been fulfilling and eye opening. The first day of service was spent at a local food bank where we helped box food and unload new donations. We also stopped at an elementary school and entertained some students there during an after school program. The second and third days we were stationed at different work sites that were focused on rebuilding homes. We were volunteering with All Hands, a non-profit organization that specializes in response and recovery. This experience was especially impactful to me because my group got the chance to meet the home owner and her daughter. This family had been living in the same house for 20 years and lost most of what they owned. Meeting these people and helping them get back on their feet made the flood that hit Louisiana a reality for me instead of a news story everyone forgets in a day. On the fourth day of service my group helped with an environmental project clearing trails and brush. It was nice to be outside!