NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana, and is the current acronym that the participants in an Alternative Break Experience (ABE) through CSB Campus Ministry are using for their service trip.

On January 5, six women, two men and myself, Sister Mary Jane Berger, are starting out at 6 a.m. for the long drive to New Orleans. We will stay overnight in Illinois after the first day of 12 hours of driving and arrive at our destination around 7 p.m. the second day. Our destination at United Saints Recovery Project will start our week of “helping to revitalize New Orleans and surrounding communities.” The work of the recovery projects began in 2008 and continues following the multiple disasters that keep hitting New Orleans. This last year, there were floods in Baton Rouge, a tornado that hit New Orleans East and recent flooding in mid-New Orleans, besides Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

According to the United Saints website, the purpose of the recovery project is “to assist communities that have suffered damage from natural disasters, helping residents return home, improve their quality of life and strengthen their communities. We do this with the help of local, national and international volunteers, assisting homeowners in rehabilitating and rebuilding their homes and engaging those homeowners in our effort to promote volunteerism within the community.” We already know that we will be going to a different site each day to assist in whatever projects are in progress at that site.

NOLA is just one of 11 groups from CSB/SJU Campus Ministry’s sponsored service trips for 2019. Winter groups, going January 5–13, include San Francisco, Guatemala, Denver and New Orleans. The service sites offer not only such opportunities as work that needs to be done, but also experience in intentional living, learning about another culture and reflection.

Mary Jane Berger, OSB