marathoner452: (forgotten)
Just when I think I have everything figured out, I get a phone call from the Southeast Louisiana Red Cross chapter in New Orleans. I have an interview on Thursday and I need to let the NPRC at the Red Cross chapter in Baltimore know my final decision by Friday.

This is scary but I wouldn't trade this chance for anything.

Needless to say, volunteering with Hands On New Orleans last week was another eye-opening experience. It's one thing to serve hundreds of meals to the residents of New Orleans and St. Bernard; it's quite another to go through their homes at their request and put what were their lives out for trash pickup. It forced me to reconsider what material stuff is worth anyway. It forced me to think that yeah, swinging a crowbar at moldy drywall in sticky heat can be construed as fun or at least great anger management, but you're talking about people's lives here. Tearing down to rebuild. You can't get much more hands-on than that. 

So thank you [profile] batemanenroute for inviting me down there, and thank you [profile] roadwarrior220 and [profile] ratkrycek for giving your time to rebuild New Orleans.  Thank you [profile] drunah and [profile] flamingjune07 for welcoming us with open arms and telling your stories.  [profile] popeguss, [personal profile] 30toseoul, and [profile] auryn24, I'm sorry we didn't get to meet this time, but I will be back.  We will be back, because we have not forgotten.

~Bethany
marathoner452: (ratkrycek)
marathoner452: (Default)

When I was down here on my Red Cross deployment I made plans to come on this trip with the Hands On Network before I went back to Maryland.  Therefore, I must plan my next trip down to New Orleans before I leave this time.

Emergency Communities, otherwise known as the Made With Love Cafe.  They're even opening up a new kitchen in Violet, where I spent most of my days on a feeding crew in a Red Cross ERV.  As a side note, Common Ground people are pretty cool even if they don't like the Red Cross.  We spent a few hours hanging out with them last night.  They had a drawing hanging on a windowsill of a naked gutting team.  That sounds really uncomfortable, just sayin'.

Now about AmeriCorps next year-I have another offer, from Volunteer Southern Maryland.  That brings my total to five and an interview offer from Habitat in Baton Rouge, though I've pretty much already decided on working for the Red Cross down in Baltimore.  As much as I love New Orleans, Maryland is my home.

Now I really need a shower.  Thank goodness they got the AC fixed in here though.

~Bethany

marathoner452: (Default)

I know that most of you who read this either live here in New Orleans or are here volunteering with Hands on New Orleans, but those of you that aren't need to hear what is going on down here.

I missed my flight on Friday because I went to the wrong airport.  For your future information, DCA is Reagan National Airport just outside DC, and IAD is Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.  Good to know.  I waited on standby for a flight to Dallas, didn't get on the plane, and rebooked for the same flight I was supposed to be on Friday for Saturday.    I got to the church where we're staying Saturday afternoon, got Sunday off to wander around the French Quarter and enjoy beignets at Cafe du Monde.  I started work Monday, yesterday.

I thought I was prepared for gutting out houses, but it turns out it's a lot harder than running a marathon.  At least when you run a marathon you're done in 4 or 5 hours and you get to wear shorts and a tank top and thousands of people cheer you on. For this, you have to wear steel-toed boots, a Tyvek suit, a respirator/gas mask, goggles, a hard hat, and work gloves.  It wasn't even all that hot yesterday after the storm came through and we were still drenched an hour into working.  We were ripping the drywall off the walls, ripping drywall and insulation off the ceiling, taking down lighting fixtures, pulling out all the nails so the mold crews can come in and get the house ready to be rebuilt.  We finished up with the "gut," which was out in Gentilly.  The neighborhood was almost deserted.  It was rather eerie.

You find muscles you didn't even know you had.  You drink gallons of water and question your sanity on coming down here in the middle of July and during hurricane season and complain a little about sleeping on an air mattress in a bunk bed in an un-air conditioned church fellowship hall a long hot walk away from the French Quarter, but then you remember what you're down here for and you stop complaining.  Who are you to complain when you spend your days gutting out someone's house so they can start over?  You really have nothing to complain about because at the end of the week you'll go back home on a climate-controlled plane to your house, your car, your job where the power doesn't go off on a regular basis and you don't have to worry about whether the levees will hold this year.

I must have drank some of that Mississippi River water.  I want to come back already, but not to live like I thought I did.  Maryland is my home.  I'm strongly leaning towards the NPRC Red Cross position-I know as an organization the Red Cross has a lot of problems, but I've never met so many amazing volunteers all in one place.  Disaster response is tough work but someone's gotta do it, and I would trust almost any of my fellow Red Cross volunteers who I met in New Orleans with my life.

We have another day off today, for the 4th of July.  It is stinkin' hot in here, so I think we're going to wander down to Magazine Street for ice cream and window shopping, then see what happens.

~Bethany

marathoner452: (Default)
Friday 6/30, depart Dulles (DC) at 10:34, arrive Chicago at 11:31
depart Chicago at 1:14, arrive New Orleans at 3:28
Sunday, 7/9, depart New Orleans at 2:40, arrive St. Louis at 4:29
depart St. Louis at 5:40, arrive Dulles at 8:38

So who wants to share the cab fare downtown once we get there?

~Bethany
marathoner452: (Default)
I officially have off the first week of July to go back down to New Orleans. I'm going with AmeriCorps this time, gutting and mold removal and good stuff like that in the steamy southeast Louisiana summer heat. We'll be living in barracks-style housing and eating MREs and working 10 hour days but we'll be loving every minute of it. I can't wait to get back down there and continue helping people. I'm already counting the days-66 at this point, I believe. That could be the one downside to this trip-with the Red Cross deployment I had less than 24 hours to get all pumped up on adrenaline, less than 24 hours from the time I first heard about my deployment and the time I arrived in Baton Rouge. This time around I have more than 2 months until the plane lifts off and I'm already ready to go.

I ran 5 miles on Sunday night. I was stiff after a mile and a quarter and it was painfully slow and I was stiff as anything yesterday, but I'm finally getting back into distance running shape. Even if I ran 11 minute miles versus the 9:40 pace I ran in my last marathon, getting back to what I love doing makes me very happy. Like I said recently, running is as much therapy as anything else.

Speaking of which, I should get off the computer and get out for a run sometime soon. That or work on finishing up with The Tenth Circle, which was due today and has 83 holds on it. Whoops.

~Bethany

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May 2010

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