The Ladies!

The Gents

I never could have imagined what fantastic experiences, food and friends I would find when being accepted to the NOLA Gracenotes trip. There was a heartfelt goodbye at the airport as we one by one boarded our rides home. Only seconds later our text message chain made my phone buzz non stop and promises of monthly lunches put a huge smile on my face.

The week started out meeting up with the lovely crew, who I had met once before, at the airport. I had a swollen face and 2 black eyes from being hit in the eye with a softball hours before. They welcomed me with open arms and helped me feel loved instantly. A week of jokes galore ensued.

Who knew that we would be so efficient. Our Habitat Leaders loved us. We cleaned the house, built, sanded and stained stairs, poured and leveled concrete, put down sod and built an air conditioning stand. Yet the toughest of projects had to have been digging fence holes upon fence holes. We really could see the difference we made in just 4 days of hard work and I can truly say I have never worked so hard in my life. My swollen ankles can attest to that.

Overall I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to go with. It was on my bucket list to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and I am so happy to cross that off.  My first time in NOLA surely didn’t disappoint. I had the most delicious crawfish covered in all deliciousness. We listened to fantastic jazz music, worked our way up and down Burbon and Frenchman street, went to the Garden District to see Lafayette Cemetery and drove through the ninth ward. We were able to get a lot accomplished in our short week, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I am happy I was able to join my colleagues in making a dent in the enormous task that is rebuilding New Orleans and grateful to Berklee and Gracenotes for choosing me to represent. I am and will forever be grateful for this experience. #BerkleeNOLA

Monique Villalona
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