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YMCA teens travel to New Orleans for fourth annual rebuilding NOLA service learning trip

Posted by Terri Ogan  May 16, 2013 11:30 AM

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For the fourth year in a row, teens from the YMCA of the North Shore traveled to the Gulf Coast to rebuild homes lost during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

This is the second year that Greater Beverly YMCA Teens have participated in the trip.

Forty-eight volunteers, including teens and chaperones, made the trip during April school vacation week from April 14 to April 20.

The Cape Ann, Salem, Greater Beverly and Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA volunteers worked first at Mr. Mack's Lower 9th Ward, a local community center, in gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning the building and did other miscellaneous projects.

They then worked for the next several days at St. Bernard Project, rebuilding homes by painting, dry wall, spackling, and doing other construction tasks.

“Taking part in this years’ service trip to New Orleans was very rewarding,” said Molly White, 14, of Gloucester, in a recent statement.  “The main reason I loved the trip was the feelings I had during and after rebuilding Ms. Deborah Williams’ house.  Knowing that I could help a caring, good-hearted family move back home and restart their lives after eight years is so incredibly fulfilling and uplifting.”

Sixteen-year-old, Becca Salah of Beverly concurred, adding that the trip made her appreciate what she has at home.

"Being able to get out of Beverly and give back makes me feel so good about myself," Salah said. "New Orleans was such an outstanding adventure and experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Despite the hard work the trip entails, the group always takes time to have some fun. Participants tour the devastated neighborhoods, as well as the tourist centers to give the teens an idea of the rich culture in the New Orleans area.

“This year we did an Evergreen Plantation tour and the Honey Island Swamp Boat Tour where we saw alligators in the wild, plus went to the Rock'n'Bowl with live Zydeco music and visited the French Market where we ate cultural food,” said trip chaperone and Rockport Teen Center Director, Nikki Marin.

The YMCA has successfully lead five service trips to New Orleans and Nicaragua over the past four years and the organization aims to motivate the teens in the process.

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