Students from Eastern have been lending a helping hand to New Orleans for the past four years.
This year, the group consisted of seniors Krystal Cairns, Laura Lockyer, Julie Peiffer, junior Amy Fischer, sophomore Kristi Kraft, alumnae Rebekah Miller and librarian Jonathan Beasley, who served as advisor of the trip.
The team served in New Orleans from Jan. 1-9, working on three main projects. They worked on houses, assisted the Berean Bible Church’s street ministry and helped to organize the records within the church.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the group painted fences and railings, washed tile flooring, put down grout sealer and tore out molded cabinets and drawers.
On Tuesday and Thursday the group went into the city to do street ministry with the pastors from Berean Bible Church.
Among these tasks, the Eastern group spent its days handing out food, talking about the love of Christ and just spending time with the homeless.
There are an estimated 19,000 homeless people in New Orleans currently. Over the past three years the groups have cultivated relationships with more than 30 homeless people.
Cairns explained that some of the people in their group had not experienced working with the homeless before and were a little apprehensive, but they loved every second of it.
“After our first day, we all were excited to head back in on Thursday and see what was in store for us,” Cairns said.
Fischer said that her favorite days were the ones when she talked to the homeless in the streets.
“To see their joy and happiness really inspired me to see what’s really important,” Fischer said.
Beasley has been advisor for all four of the trips to New Orleans, and most of this year’s students had gone on the trip previously. This meant they were able to see the progress that was made in the city.
“We were able to see houses we had worked on the last few years,” Beasley said.
Not only did the group help others in New Orleans, but they were inspired as well.
“After my first trip down, I couldn’t stay away–between the rebuilding, meeting survivors of Katrina, and the culture,” Cairns said. “It’s like an entirely different world in New Orleans.”
Eastern plans on continuing this trip to New Orleans every year as long as there is work to be done. Any interested students should contact Andy Horvath, director of service learning and campus ministries.
“It has been a blessing to witness the progress and change the city has gone through,” Cairns said. “There is rebirth and a sense of hope that is spreading rapidly.”