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Berklee NOLA: Day 2 and 3

Lady from Allen Street (sarcastic and with a smile): “What are you going to do when the rivers of the Mississippi floods us again?!”

Michael Heyman: “We’ll come back and build some more!”

This is the spirit that my team has been clenching onto this week. It’s been two days … we’re tired yet jovial, exhausted yet determined. I think it’s safe to say that we are facing one of the biggest challenges in our lives. For me, I’ve done mostly everything in my life for my own survival … for my own pursuit of knowledge, enrichment, and growth. But standing on the grounds where people have died for much less, and driving through the Ninth Ward by the levees, has really made me rethink everything I’ve done for myself up until this week.

My name is Corinto Cevallos, welcome to my post for Day 2 and 3 in New Orleans. I work for Student Affairs and I’m very excited to be here with my team.

Our second day in New Orleans led us to the Seventh Ward, which marked our first day on the building site. We met Mike, our fearless leader, who is coincidently from the south shores of Massachusetts. His participation in AmeriCorp led him to Habitat for Humanity. Since his start with Habitat, Mike has successfully led many building projects to completion. He’s a true hero in the eyes of the NOLA community.

In brief, Habitat for Humanity was started in the 1970’s with private funding. The organization has partaken in building projects all throughout the word. In New Orleans alone, Habitat sponsored about 5 homes per year since 1983 up until Katrina. The years following the hurricane, Habitat raised the bar and completed about 100 per year. Since their peak, they’ve plateaued at about 50 houses per year. This is only possible with the help of volunteers, such as ourselves.

Our first two days consisted of several tasks, including:

Exterior work:

  • Digging out sections of the front and side yard; prepping for concrete
  • Mixing, pouring, and finishing concreate
  • Painting storm covers for windows (for future storms)

Interior work:

  • Measuring windows; prepping for window sill installations
  • Cutting wood to be used as sills
  • Prepping doorways for door frames
  • Cutting wood for door frames
  • Door frame installations

This list sums up our work thus far. The most gratifying part of our first two days was meeting Bennie, one of the new home owners of the house. Thankful is not enough to describe what I’m sure he was feeling. He was overly appreciative of the work we were doing, and ensured us that he would be joining us on Saturday to help with the build. This is why we’re here. And this, alone, was worth the celebration at Bacchanal later in the night.

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  1. Roya

    What a wonderful post! I feel like I am right there with you guys! Keep up the great work!

  2. Rob Hochschild

    Great post, Corinto. And I totally get how this experience feels gratifying and humbling at the same time. It’s great to know the Berklee-ites are down there and helping bring back New Orleans.

    Any talk of Treme, the TV show, down there?

  3. Kathryn

    Wow, Corinto. You’re so fortunate to have met Bennie. That brings everything full circle.

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