Wednesday, March 11, 2009



Pictures taken by Adam Flanagan from the entire trip can be found at:

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Goodbye Biloxi...I will miss you and your people.


Final Goodbyes

Tiffany Here...

What to say? (Other than I do not want to leave)

Camp Victor is now empty and extremely quiet. This trip has been great; I met great people and learned so many lessons. I made some great friends that I will continue to keep in touch with. Being around so many great people with one common goal (to help people) has truly changed my life.

I forgot to mention someone yesterday in my blog and his name is Devin. He worked with us for a day and hung out with us at camp victor. He is a big sweetheart. He came all the way from Wisconsin by himself and this is not his first trip. He successfully made friends with every person here at camp victor. Pretty amazing, I know. I actually thought he was staff because he was so attentive to everyone but no he is just a volunteer with a huge heart.

I can't believe that when Spike said "Lets put this booger up," he actually meant we would be putting up an entire house. We as a group tore apart a house and then rebuilt it in four days. Incredible what you can do with 20 or so strangers, a few hammers, and two leaders. We all learned so much about each other and ourselves.

We will be leaving today, headed for New Orleans and will be arriving in Pittsburgh sometime tonight. This trip has gone way too fast; it feels as if we have only been here for a day. We accomplished so much in such a little amount of time imagine what we could do with a few more days.

This trip has been so much fun!!!

Elaine's Second...but last Blog Entry - The End of Something New

Hello all again,

This is my last entry before heading back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Since my last post we have nailed our last nails, put up our final plywood sheets, and deconstructed our last studs. It's been such a life changing experience. This moment in time I should tell you why I came on this trip. When I was a little girl, my Grandparents lived in Rockwood, Pennsylvania and there was a tornado close by in Salsbury, PA. When we went to visit we all went to see what the tornado had done to the community. All I remember was driving past one house that was gutted. The insulation was thrown about the lawn and there was one wall standing. In the middle of the wrecked house stood this little girl about my age holding her teddy bear. That image stuck with me and I said one day I would help her out, give back to her. Last night while I was laying in bed, I finally felt like I gave back to that little girl. I helped put one more house up that was not exsisting. It feels very rewarding to help out a community. I would LOVE to come back and see the house complete and get to build another house. Hopefully, Point Park keeps up with the alternative Spring Breaks because I'm SO in=). We are suppose to go back to New Orleans today but I have no feeling of returning to school. haha. But, I want to thank all my loved one's for helping make this trip possible and I thank all the people of Mississippi for letting me into their community to lend a helping hand. It's been real, it's been fun, it's been REAL FUN!

Take care and hope to blog next year,

Elaine Koontz (Elle<3)

The Last Day...

It's Brittany, writing for the last time from Camp Victor.  This is really weird because it's 8 a.m. and we're not on the work site in the heat, but packing up to make our way back to Pittsburgh.

I've learned more from this trip than I thought possible, especially from all of the people that I've met throughout the week.  It's amazing how much can be accomplished when a group of people come together for one cause.  The other individuals that our group worked with this week have been thoroughly talked about in previous blogs and I am glad to have met every one of them.  Also, everyone has a different story and getting to know people that you may have never met otherwise is a great part of working with Habitat.

I think its also really great that our group of students who really didn't know each other beforehand has become close over the week.  Not to sound too cheesy, but all of us have shared memories that will last a lifetime.

This week has been amazing and I am thankful that I was able to be a part of the Habitat work.  I would not have spent my spring break any other way and I hope to do this again soon.

Don't Send Me Back!!!

Hey this is Morgan.
It's our last day here, and I'm very sad to leave. I feel that there is a lot of things I still have to do... like finish the house for one thing. I'm very proud of all of us and how much we accomplished. Not only did we learn how to build a house, we learned many things about ourselves and others, and have come to be really good friends.
Yesterday was our last work day. We put up plywood around the frame and now it looks like a house. We made cards for our supervisors Spikes and Miles, who I will miss so much when I leave. I definitely want to come back and see them and see how far the house has come.
Carol a.k.a sweetest woman ever left yesterday, with David (they make such a cute couple) she was always dressed and ready to go by the time the lights turned on. I will definitely keep in touch with both of them.
Ocean Springs is such a beautiful and friendly town. Being so close to the Gulf it has recovered pretty well, but there is still a lot to be done. Standing in front of the now calm waters of the Gulf , reminds me how powerful and dangerous nature can be. Despite the destruction, natives refuse to leave, and I can see why. They have such a strong community and love for this area, that its not as easy to just pack up and leave.
Suffice it to say, this trip was pretty amazing!!

ashley laverty again

It's strange that I've gotten so used to waking up early. It's 7:45am and here I am, wide awake in the nearly empty, dark Camp Victor lounge, writing this!

Yesterday was probably my favorite day here. The 11 of us have really gotten to know each other over the last 6 days, but last night I feel we really bonded. I don't know, who knows, it's just how I feel!

At the jobsite yesterday, things were a little chaotic. We put up all the plywood around the house, so everybody had a hammer, and some people were up on ladders, things began to fall, so hard hats were worn (Which say Habitat for Humanity AND we get to keep, by the way.) It was HOT outside and I could feel myself getting sunburnt. What's strange about Mississippi heat is it seems to get reaaaaalllly hot from 9am-12pm and then cool off until about 3pm, then get raging hot again. Carol, our adopted "Wall Mom", and her beau David left around 2, and it was really sad to say goodbye! I loved meeting them and working with them. We worked until about 3:45pm and said our goodbyes...we had already given Miles and Spikes their cards (which they seemed to love!) and of course, we took a million group pictures and pics of our house. It really looked like a house, sans roof and siding. I'm so glad we got to start from the bottom up. Of course, if our project was toput in insulation and siding and stuff, it would still be fun but I'm glad we were here the week we were.

After we were dropped off at Camp Victor, I took my last shower, bid farewell to my shower shoes as I threw them in the trash, and bought a Habitat for Humanity sweatshirt. A few of us got them...they are cute and also the proceeds went to an amazing cause.

Then we had dinner with 2 partner families. I talked briefly with a few women, and one told me how she stayed in her house with her husband when Katrina hit. There was 6 feet of water in her house while they ran to the attic. Thankfully that was all, and she said she was blessed enough to have a group of people help restore her first floor after the storm. Her sister's house, however, was destroyed in Biloxi and is currently being rebuilt by a group that was staying here with us.

This trip has truly made me appreciate what I have. I cannot take anything or anyone in my life for granted. I feel like I really made a difference while being here. No matter how sore I am, how sick I feel, how sunburnt my arms are or how much my blisters may hurt, I would never trade this experience for anything.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I am not leaving...this place is too wonderful

Tiffany Here:)

This trip has been incredible.

Anyone and everyone should venture down here sometime. It is absolutely amazing.

It is now our last day and though we are sad to leave, we are leaving with memories and lessons that will continue to follow us for our entire lives. This trip has changed my life in many many ways.

The eleven of us here at camp victor have been living with people who deeply and truly care about other people. Thats hard to find in our everyday lives but here it is rare to find someone who is not willing to lend a hand. The entire town appreciates us coming here. Whether it is the woman walking down the street or the man walking his dog (whom he rescued after the hurricane) on the beach, everyone says thank you. Everyone smiles, Everyone waves, Everyone is friendly. This trip has restored my faith in mankind. We as humans CAN make a difference and there is a giant amount of people who actually do.

At the work site we work with Miles and Spikes ( both of which are awesome by the way) they taught us how to...well how to build a house in so many words. I learned the technic to pound the nail into the stud (thanks to Miles), how to build a shed, and how to shake the wood chips out of my hair(which really does not work). I, Tiffany Lehman, can use power tools!! Which is so much fun by the way. I got to cut out all the windows (I had so much fun with the router). I sneezed like seventeen times and had saw dust everywhere. There was a point in the day where i stopped brushing it off cause it was impossible to compete with it. I think I came back with an entire piece of ply wood on my body in the form of dust.

This group of 15 strangers made the best team. We worked together so well. Although we are all very different we became great friends. Through all the nailing, cutting, and building we had some great inside jokes, great laughs, and great heart to heart talks. I learned so much about these people and I learned so much from them.

Even on site I met amazing people like Mr. Lee and Jean, David and Carol, Mike, Miles, and Spikes. They are all wonderful in there own ways. Mr. Lee is retired but still can pound a mean hammer. Jean is 69 and just recently had knee surgery but she can keep up with any one of us. They both care so much for others and have so many amazing stories to tell about all their trips down here to help out. David is soooo nice and helpful, he helped me with many tasks. Carol is so pretty and sweet and hard working. They both are wonderful people who care deeply about every person they meet. Mike is awesome, he is from Canada and took time out of his life to come down here by himself to help this town rebuild. Miles...enough said. No but really he is great. He might be sarcastic and riduculous but he is helpful, down-to-earth, and is just truly a great person. Spikes the retired NFL player giving back to his home town. He wears sweat shirts in 75 degree weather, he can pick up walls and throw them around by himself, but he has the biggest heart. I am incredibly lucky that I was given this opportunity to meet all these fabulous people.

I watched a stack of wood become a house and I helped in the process. It is a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. I am proud of us our group for working together and building a wonderful house for a family that deserves it.

When you take a look at the bigger picture you realize, that it is not just a house you are building for these people it is a home. We helped rebuild someones life.

This was my first trip to help after Katrina but it will not be my last.

Saying Goodbye

Well today was our final day on the site and working for Habitat for Humanity. I'm really sad to see this day come as it feels like we were only just setting to work and getting to know everyone working on our house. We took a floor and foundation of a house and helped give it walls and rooms and hopefully new volunteers will be able to finish it to create a great home for a family. I'm a little disappointed that we never got to meet the people who will one day be living in that house and calling it there home but I still wish them all the happiness and hope that what we did help in some small way.

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone and we decided as a group to make large obnoxious cards for Miles and Spikes. Inside we all wrote them our little thanks and goodbye and I hope it helped them realize how much we appreciated their patience, kindness, and good humor at having a bunch of students who had no clue about construction come and try to help them. I'll miss everyone we worked with they have all showed me that a bunch of people regardless of age or life experiences we can all come together to help when it is needed. I have met people from Point Park who otherwise I may never have known or had such great connections with. I'm so impressed by everyone's heart and energy and that we could all become so close in such a short period of time.

Well tonight we are all going to put up our mark on Camp Victor in a mural in the cafeteria. Now every time someone goes to get food they will see our Point Park painting. Also we found out that a girl that works for Habitat went to Point Park!! Small world! Well I'm going to go see how the murals going and maybe we will take on final trip to Sonic tonight.


PKchecking in for final day

Hi everyone, Well, today was the last day of building, and we'll be off to Pittsburgh tomorrow. I know everyone has said this, but the best part of this trip has been the group we were with. Our site supervisor (who's a former NFL player, by the way) said that we sure had a group of hard workers and that they would sure miss us. We'll miss them and the other members of our team too - wonderful people all. I found myself having to fight back tears as we all said goodbye today.

I think we'll all take away new 'knowledges (lessons doesn't quite seem like the right word) from this trip so I thought I'd begin by sharing mine.

1. Working like this makes thinking about anything else impossible. I think we all brought book work of some sort that we 'thought' we'd work on at night. And we all agreed that we haven't thought a bit about what we normally do. (to my Emerson students -- I brought your midterms with me guys, but you wouldn't have wanted me to grade them in my "after work" condition - trust me on this)

2. As several have mentioned, we had to DEconstruct several walls and other parts of the house before we started building again. Knowing what it takes to do that has made me (even more) in awe of the power of a major hurricane. It's just incomprehensible that houses could be shredded by anything.

3. There are lots of decent, generous people in the world. We've met many of them. The camp itself is a testament to that.

4. Our students have once again made me so proud. Fun, dedicated, thoughtful, smart, fearless (Tiffany today with that router!) -- just wonderful people.

5. The 15 person van (our transportation for this week) is much easier to stop empty than when loaded with all of us and our gear.

6. Tetanus shots, tetanus shots, tetanus shots - nuff said.

7. Waffle House food will probably not kill you.

8. Hard work is much more fun with a lot of people working hard.

9. People who have lived in this area all of their lives love it - and with good reason. I understand completely why they would want to rebuild.

10. Because the house payments that people who live in these habitat houses is used to fund the next one, our work here will live on and on --

and the memories will live forever.
It's been a wonderful adventure.


sad to leave

Today was our last day working and it was incredible to leave and see all the work we did. It feels so wonderful to help. Today all of the siding was put on the house. So many nails were pounded. I would put a huge handful of nails in my pouch, and then after what felt like only a few short moments they would be all gone. I have been dreaming about nails pounding into wood.

OK and now for a really sappy moment...

It has meant so much to me to be a part of this trip. The team was really great. A huge part of why I had so much fun was because of the people. We were all really there for the right reasons and everyone was working hard but at the same time having fun. Working with Spikes and Miles (our construction leaders) was so fun. I'm really going to miss David, Carol, Lee, Jean and Mike. I'm going to miss the warm sun shining on me. I'm going to miss southern accents and even getting splinters....well maybe not the splinters so much. This trip has made me realize how important it is to help. I realized that I always want to be working on some project that gives back. It really makes you feel so good to make a difference to someone and I know this is a trip that I am never going to forget. I think one day I will join the Peace Corps or Americorps. I want to learn, explore and do things I have never done before. Thanks Ashley for giving me this opportunity!


Mack signing off...

Hey all! This is Mack Frantz reporting on our last work day.
We had some new people show up today to work on the house. We got busy putting up sheeting for the sides of the house, which required lots and lots of nails. I feel by the end of this trip everyone is going to "love" nails for the rest of their life (I can do without them for quite some time).
We're going to miss the people we worked with; I couldn't have asked for a better group. It's nice to know there are people willing to give up their time for something good when they could be easily be studying for midterms right now or doing absolutely nothing at all (which always sounds nice when you're in school).
I will always remember this experience. I am happy to be a part of it all.

Signing off...

One Giant Bicep

It's Ashley Dalton writing. After another day of "fun with hammers" we're finally done. It's been decided that we're going to come back with awful tan lines from our gloves (that leave our arms tan and hands white), one giant bulging bicep from hammering, mosquito bites that look like volcanos, but memories and lessons that will not soon be forgotten!

This week has really been amazing. Getting to make a real difference and see what a group of people can do in a short amount of time has been awesome. As Ashmur (one of three Ashley's on this trip) said in her last blog, the people you meet that live their lives to be service minded are such a wonderful group of people. It's also nice to see that you can always live your life to be service minded too, Jean is in her late sixties and there are freshmen in our group that are 18...but somehow we all have a common purpose to help others. Helping our students to see that volunteerism has no age limit is a great thing, I can only hope that as we all grow older, we continue to realize the importance of what people are capable to do to help others.

I cannot say enough about this outstanding group of students...other than some fun complaining, no one has quit, no one has bemoaned the work (even when it wasn't the greatest) and they've all come together as a group of students that didn't really know each other, to be a great team. I'm very proud for how these students represented our university, each other and the spirit of volunteerism.

No More Sonic Before Bedtime

Good morning. Once again, I'm blogging at 6:30am. I had the strangest dreams last night, and I'm convinced it's because of the giant Sonic Blast I ate. Yes, we ventured to the Sonic on I-10. Most of us agreed that we've seen commercials back home but have never actually seen a Sonic. However, they're hard to miss here. We couldn't believe it when our waitress came out on roller skates. Well, as far as southern fast food goes, we've got Sonic down, but still Waffle House to go.

Food aside, the construction yesterday was a bit slower than the other days. We put up the front wall of the house and built and put up some more interior walls. Also, we assembled the walls for the shed in the backyard. Though the process slowed down a bit, it gave us a chance to talk more with the others on our site. We're working with two great couples, Carol and David from North Carolina, and Jean and Lee from Iowa, and a fun guy from Ontario named Mike. To get to know these people is a great experience. It amazes me to think that Carol and David took a week off from work to volunteer for Habitat, that Lee and Jean are doing this during their retirement, and that Mike came here all by himself to work (we've pretty much adopted him). I feel like we've really built friendships over the last week. For instance, during lunch yesterday, we sat with Carol and looked at pictures of her family. So, I suppose a day of less work wasn't so bad.

Well, I'm off to eat breakfast!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's Thursday?!

Wow I can't believe it's already Thursday. Only one more day of work on our house and then Saturday we are heading back to Pennsylvania!! I'm not ready to leave all the awesome people we have met or the house that we won't be able to finish but ESPECIALLY am not ready to leave the warm weather. It has been such a great experience I'm absolutely in love with the gulf coast of Mississippi now. I understand why it's so important for people to return and rebuild.

Today some of us continued working on the framing of the house while myself and a couple of other girls worked on building the shed in the back of the house. We basically did it all ourselves with a little help from Spikes and the AmeriCorps worker Miles. There were a lot of laughs on site today especially when we hid Miles' toolbelt and he opened his mouth when Tiffany used the saw sending a shower of woodchips into his mouth. It wasn't worth the joke he later said as the rest of us were rolling around on the ground laughing.

It's hard knowing that tomorrow will be our last day and that we will have to say goodbye to David, Carol, Lee, Jean, Spikes, Mike and Miles. They have all been great to work with and have made the experience all the more fun and worthwhile. It's amazing but I really feel connected to all of them through this experience.

Well tonight we have some free time after dinner so a group of us are going to go to Sonic since a few in our group have never been there before. Later!


Mack reports in

Hey all! It's Mack.

I can't believe this week is almost over... it's like we just arrived today. Our house is finally starting to look like a house with only one more day to work on it. Tomorrow we're going to try to correct and line up the walls before we start adding sheeting.
Everyone we're volunteering with are awesome people to be around.

For supper I went to a BBQ place right next to Camp Victor. What great bbq! For $8 I got sweet tea, potato salad, baked beans, garlix toast, and ribs with its own special sauce. I think I won't have to eat for the next day or so. :)

We're about to go off to Sonic since many people have never gone there. We've been exploring the small town and enjoying all the sites (especially the Waffle House on every block, just like Starbucks in Pittsburgh!).

I wonder what our last day will bring. Time will tell. Blog you later!

Elaine's First Blog - Is My Face Red?

Hello all,

This is my first blog finally and just a warning it's going to be long so hold on to your hats!! First, I must apologize to my loved ones who have been waiting for my blog, it's be mega busy and I've been trying to find time to study for midterms but ANYWHO!!!

The flight in! So, the airplane flight in was amazing! I absolutely love flying! It's the greatest feeling I've ever felt and I can't wait to do it again going home BUT i don't want to go home just yet. Sorry I keep getting off topic. So, the flight was amazing and arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana was so cool. We got off the plane and everything smelled so beachy. When we went outside however, the weather was only about 30 degrees. What a bummer! We then went to Denny's. I mean come on, we're in NEW ORLEANS and we're eating at Denny's but it's okay. Our waitress had an accent which compensated I guess.

After our Denny's randevu we went looking around the 9th ward where Hurricane Katrina had hit. What an experience! There are actually no words to describe the heartache and pain I felt for everyone there. It made me just want to start building for them right then and there. But I knew we would be working in a few days. After touring the destroyed area of New Orleans we went to the motel. BEAUTIFUL i must say. I didn't think we would get such a nice hotel. Later that day we went touring New Orleans on the trolley and by foot. I WAS ON BOURBON STREET!!! It was so awesome. I will have to post video of Bourbon Street but for right now I can't connect through Camp Victor's computers. ANYWHO! I think the French Quarter in New Orleans is just amazing. The architecture is so unique and everything is 2 stories (maybe 3 stories with the basement but I didn't see that). While walking around we all were enthralled with the Mardi Gras aftermath. There were tons and tons of Mardi Gras beads hung up in the trees. It's was awesome and beautiful! Once the night time rolled around we walked the streets a little more. It's amazing how early everything opens. We then walked to a resturant called Mulate's. I never had Cajun food so it was a treat! Adam, Kelly, Riva ordered the seafood platter which consisted of frog legs, alligator, catfish, crawlfish, stuffed mushrooms, meat pies and some kind of sausage. Everything was excellent!! I love love love frog legs haha!! After dinner there was a live band and I watched the people dance around with much suprise that a few of our crew got up to dance. I thought that was fantastic!! Once we left the restaurant we went to a jazz concert at Preservation Hall. FANTASTIC! I thouroughly enjoyed listening to the men play their instruments and flare their New Orleans Pride. I was utterly moved by that experience and also yelled at for taking pictures but it's all good=). Once we did that we were beat and went to bed.

The following morning we got up and went to Cafe Du Monde's. This calls for an OMG moment right here! They served french doughnuts called Beignets. FANTABULOUS!!! Yes, Kaitlin, FANTABULOUS!! A beignet is a doughnut topped with a POUND of powdered sugar!!!!!
Once we left our sweet New Orleans, we traveled to Camp Victor. We arrived and got the run down of what we were doing and then ate. Once we ate we started a puzzle and went to bed because we were so beat and lights out was 10pm.

Day 1 of Construction (or deconstruction, I think?)
We had finally arrived to build our house...or wait, BUILD!? Our site supervisor told us to start tearing boards APART!! Well, that was interesting and we spent our first day banging nails OUT of boards! By the end of the first day we had accomplished...nothing. No, I'd kidding we did get a few walls up.Day 2 (FINALLY, construction)
The second day was a lot more productive. We finally got more walls up and most of the interior. After a hard day of work and being sun burnt we went to a Mississippi Seawolves Ice Hockey game!!! I had never been to a hockey game and it was a fantastic experience.

Day 3 (TODAY, actually)
Today was another very productive day. We got all the walls up and we started the back yard shed. Very fun work and we laughed most of the time. Now, I'm here, posting to everyone that I love and miss!!!<3

My New Orleans/Biloxi experience has been SO SO SO FANTABULOUS!!!!! I have been so moved and have never felt better about doing anything else so good for the people of my country. This group of student workers has also been so amazing. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE has put their foot first and has contributed their hardest effort. It makes me very proud to go to Point Park with such loyal, hardworking individuals. Besides the greatest workers we have, there have been sooooo many people just coming up to us and telling us Thank You. It feels so good and I cry everytime someone says Thank You because really I should be the one thanking them for allowing me into their wonderful community to help them out. I will be posting tomorrow for the last time before heading home, Saturday, but I hope all is well for everyone and I will talk to you all so soon!

Much love,

Elaine Koontz (Elle<3)

Good Mornin'

Yes, I am blogging at 6:30am. The lights go out at 10:00pm on the dot around here, so there's not much else to do besides shut your eyes and go to sleep. Thus, I have the energy to do these things so early in the morning! Last night I was wiped out after our day of work, and I had no trouble falling asleep. We built and put up the interior walls. It was an accomplished feeling because when we arrived to the site yesterday, there were only three exterior walls standing. When we stood back and looked at the house around 3:00pm or so, it was great. I'm pretty sure we'll finish up the walls today and start hammering on the plywood. (Yes, I said hammer. There are no nail guns at Habitat for Humanity!) Well, I'm off to pack my lunch and eat a good breakfast. See y'all later.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Terry here

I knew there was a lot of destruction in New Orleans after Katrina, but this week I learned there was a large area of the Gulf Coast that suffered destruction. We are in the Biloxi area, about 85 miles from New Orleans, and Katrina hit here hard too. The Habitat for Humanities people told us that Katrina caused damage from Texas to Alabama along the Gulf Coast.

One thing I thought about today while pounding nails was how powerful the storm must have been. The winds would have destroyed in seconds what it took 20 of us two days to build, multiply that by the radius of the hurricane force winds and it is mind boggling.

It made me realize how helpless man can be against Mother Nature.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

All Photos taken by Adam Flanagan

Fun at the local hockey game!

Photo taken by Adam Flanagan
This was one of the historic churches in New Orleans!

Photo taken by Adam Flanagan

PK here

Hi everybody! PK here (I'm one of the chaperones). We have done as much as a group of 14 people can do in the hours since we left Pittsburgh (getting up at 3am on Sunday). Everybody who know me knows how I hate to fly (plus I'm a coward about the whole thing), so our really bumpy flights didn't do a lot for my nervous system. But we survived - the important thing! We tried to cover all of New Orleans in a few hours - and I think we did a pretty good job! Some of the students danced at Mulatte's for me since I'm still not really up to Cajun dance! We then packed everyone in the van (barely, by the way) and headed to the Habitat camp where the students are staying. It's a very interesting place; it has been created from an old sewing factory, so they warned everyone about the possibility of finding big, scary needles on the floor or in unshod feet. I don't think anyone is going barefoot. Also, from the various ceilings a wide variety of T-shirts is hung - one from everyone who has visited. Fortunately, one of the students brought a Point Park t-shirt, so we'll be able to leave our 'mark' as well. There are probably hundreds of T-shirts hanging, and, as another blogger noted, drawings and signatures of all of the people who have come. It's gratifying and humbling to discover how many people have been willing to come and help rebuild. There are other colleges here - most visibly a large contingent from Ohio Northern University, but there are also church groups and individuals who have just come to help.

Today we really worked hard all day either taking walls apart that were no longer usable or building walls. The house we are working on had three walls up when we left!!! At some point this afternoon, my muscles mutinied and said, "ok, you think you want to raise that hammer, but we've decided we've had enough." My only comfort was that the students were pretty much in the same condition as I was! I suspect I won't be the only sore one tomorrow! I had planned on playing the 'age' card (and whining a bit or whatever was necessary) but one of our team members is 69, so I've had to behave (well, as much as I'm capable of). The truth is there are no slackers on our team; everyone works hard and steadily. We ended the day a good bit ahead of where our (really nice) site leader thought we would be.

The students are wonderful, by the way -- everyone has been unbelievably kind and cooperative in spite of the fatigue and cramped quarters. I am so proud to be with them.

I'm off to bed, but I'll try to add more tomorrow.

good night everyone!

First day at the worksite

Hey all! Mack again.

Today was our first day at the jobsite. I thought we were going to be with a bunch of other schools, but it seems like this project is just for us. After today I saw that the amount of volunteers there is just right; anymore and people would be bored sitting around, and we wouldn't want that!
Our construction manager is Spikes, a really cool guy. Miles is the other supervisor. Rumor is that Spikes used to be a football player for the Dolphins (according to Lee)... we'll find out for sure tomorrow. Apparently the house site was abandonded for some time and the old walls they made for it got warped, so we spent most of the day "deconstructing" a house rather than build one. So many pesky nails!!!
We still got a lot of done and got a few walls up as well. It's starting to look like a real house! My wrist is aching from all the pounding along with others, but hopefully we'll recover by tomorrow. :)

A few of us went to a fast food chain here called the Whataburger, and by golly what a burger is was! Not bad for $3.20 Adam got a junior, Riva 'Justaburger', and me the real deal. We took a picture with Madison who works there- she was nice about our nothern antics and ways.

Later we got to go to a hockey game- the Seawolves vs. the Gladiators... such a great game. Very intense. We cheered during the last minute of the 2nd period and won the "loudest cheer" award... free small fry at Wendy's. Regardless of the "smoothies" we thought we were going to get, it was a very fun experience. Well, I'm off to bed. Lights come on at 6AM. Catch you later!

Getting to Work

Today was our first day officially working for Habitat for Humanity. We were all sent to a site about a twenty minute drive from Camp Victor. When we got there we had a meeting with our site manager, Spikes. Just looking at the guy I wondered why we were even there, he looked like he could have built a house all on his own! Besides the group of us from Point Park there was a few couples and a guy Miles who was there working with AmeriCorps. Then we set to work.

The home we were working on apparently had been left for a while and so we spent most of the morning taking out nails from wood that had been warped or backings that were no longer any good. I tell you destructing a house is a lot harder than building one!

After that we worked on putting up the walls. When we got there in the morning the house had only a floor and by the end of the night we had managed to get three walls up! I was really proud of our group for doing so much in one day. Of course now we are feeling the effects of our efforts with many people walking around with a few band aids and bruises but all feeling happy and accomplished.

Once we finished with our day on the site we quickly went back to Camp Victor for a quick shower and dinner and then went out to see the Biloxi, Mississippi ice hockey team, the SeaWolves play. It was a pretty sweet game with the SeaWolves winning 5-3. Also we got announced over the loud speaker for being at the game. Yeah, we're a big deal.


Are we ever going to build?

Hi. it's Riva,

We just got back a few moments ago. It is 10:00pm which means of course they shut the lights out on us.

The day started by being woken up by the lights coming on at 6:00am. Wow. That was really great. hahaha. I was very surprised that the food isn't too bad here. We made our lunches in preparation for our vigorous day. The drive over to the sight was about a half hour. When we first arrived, the guy in charge, named Spikes, told us that before we were to build, we had to take apart a bunch of stuff that had been built. He said the stuff was no good because they waited too long to build it and if we tried then the house would fall apart.

It was REALLY REALLY hard to take some of those pieces apart. It took about three hours total. At first I was very disappointed because it didn't feel like we were accomplishing much. But then after we ate lunch everything started to come together and we put up three walls. I wish we were here for longer so we could build the house start to finish.

Oh also, I step on a nail and it kinda went through my foot a little but it was OK. I cleaned it off and about 2 mins. later I felt as good as new.

After we built, a few of us took a trip to this fast food place called Whattaburger. It was very entertaining. Then we went to a hockey game and that was fun. And we won free fries at Wendy's.

Left on our agenda besides working lost more it taking a visit to Sonic and getting milkshakes because most of us have never been there and getting to the beach. There are also Waffle Houses every mile. Literally. We are all very sore and tired but I am excited for tomorrow and I know we will get a lot done.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Hey there this is Brittany!

Finally got to a computer today to blog; we drove from New Orleans to Biloxi today to stay at Camp Victor for our project. The camp is really interesting, there's a lot of people coming in to help out, although most groups are from the north. I'm really excited to see what my job will be at the site. If you know me, then you know that I have little construction knowledge. But, thats ok I'll be learning something new this week that's for sure :) Especially after visiting the 9th Ward in New Orleans and seeing what is still left to do, I know that our time down in Biloxi will be well spent.
Tiffany here...

So we finally arrived at our destination in Biloxi, Mississippi, and it is very interesting. The town is very religious and comforting. We are staying here at Camp Victor a religious affilitated camp that works with Habitat by housing and feeding volunteers who come from out of town to help the families rebuild houses. We are staying here with a few hundred people. (there are only five womens showers so the morning should be funny) There are murals and paintings all over the walls that represent people who have been here before. The camp is very cozy and the people are very helpful and nice. We get to meet people/students from many different universities and states.

It feels as if we have been here for weeks with all the traveling we have been doing. We successfully toured all of New Orleans in less than 24 hours. Impressive right?? Before we saw anything we drove through the 9th Ward which was one of the worst areas hit by Katrina. The devastation was off the charts. Houses were just gutted, completely destroyed for miles. Comparing the damage from the 9th ward to my hometown...Leechburgh, PA would no longer exist. Apart from the destruction we saw improvement efforts from Habitat for Humanity that was very up lifting.

After the 9th Ward we travel to Uptown, the fancy part of New Orleans. (example: Shadyside in Pittsburgh) We toured the million dollar masions that were breath taking. We also walked along the Mari Gras parade route which was completely decorated in beads. We ate dinner at an authentic Cajun Restaurant, shopped in the French quarter and Bourbon st. and enjoyed a jazz concert preformed at Preservation Hall. New Orleans is probably one of the most remarkable cities I have ever been to. The culture is so rich and the pure passion and love for the city, that you see from the locals, is amazing. That hardly covers everything but there really are no words to describe how truely amazing New Orleans is.

Thats it for now
Should have updates about tomorrow, our first day at work:)

Just Getting Started

Hey everyone! It's Kelly.

Wow so I can't believe we only left on Sunday. We have been on our feet almost the whole time and by mealtime I'm starving and by nighttime I'm exhausted but it has all been worth it. New Orleans was AMAZING! I never really knew much about the city but it's a beautiful place. Walking around it seems almost like a small Eurpean town. With a lot of great culture and unique shops. Just taking a walk around I was overwhelmed by the sites, smells, and sounds. With jazz and cajun music coming out of open shops and cafes. The smells of all the Cajun food and the incredible architecture surrounding us. With only two days there we left with some pretty interesting stories.

Just of the couple of things that surprised me...
- The insanity that is Bourbon St. even on a Sunday night in chilly weather people were still out partying, even if it was only five p.m.
-The massive amounts of shops, bars, and restaurants it's not hard to find something to do.
-Also just how incredibly beautiful the city is.
-Yet the most unsettling was the difference between the nice areas in New Orleans and the devistation that is still in parts of the 9th ward. The constrast between the rebuilt homes and the homes next door that are still demolished from the effects of Katrina is so shocking.

Now we are at our home for the rest of the week, Camp Victor in Biloxi, Mississippi. We just got through with our orientation and have the rest of the night to hang out and get to know each other before heading off tomorrow to get started on our work for Habitat for Humanity! Wish us luck!

Hi from Biloxi, this is Morgan Patkos.
It's our second day, and it feels like we've been here much longer. Our first day was spent in New Orleans where we got to try the local fare and hear some jazz music. People there are very interesting to say the least. They def have their own culture that I've never experienced before.

Today we made it to Ocean Springs, which is near Biloxi, and checked into Camp Victor. It's a summer camp like feel with bunk beds and a rec center. This should be interesting. Tomorrow is our first work day. I'm very excited to learn new things here.
That's all for now. I'll keep you updated as the days go on.
P.S Hello Potter County! <3

What a trip!

Yesterday was so jam packed! We pretty much went all day non-stop from 4am until 11pm plus add an hour because of the time difference. Here are a few things that really suck out to me.

-I was in awe when we drove through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans. Seeing pictures is one thing but actually being there is different. The spray paint markings on the houses was really depressing.
-When we went into the French Quarter
-ART ART ART (that is what made me happiest)
-It was a Sunday night and there was so much energy
-We saw 3 guys doing a big show of acrobats. One of them started doing handstands in the middle of the street!
-We saw three little ponies!!
-There were large amounts of horse and buggies, Mardi Gras stores everywhere! All the trees had beads hanging from them from Fat Tuesday
-There were so many different styles of music being played all over
-I ate alligator and frog legs and a bunch of other Cajun foods and listened to a live Cajun music
-The Jazz music was AMAZING! The band had an original song call "I'm your hot dog man" and it was very funny

There are really so many things I really couldn't even sum it up if I tried. We are now at camp Victor and I am very excited to start working. So far it has been so fun eating and exploring but I am really ready to do what I came here to do. Its supposed to get warmer through the rest of the week so them hopefully we can get to the beach because it is only a mile away!!

So that is all for now. Take care.


Ashley LAV's post

Here we are in Biloxi at Camp Victor! Picture a summer camp living situation paired with really inspirational people and writings all over the walls. Anyone who stays here leaves their mark by either writing their initials on the wall or painting a picture or something with an inspirational quote, saying or just something to sum up their experience.

Anyways, today we drove into Biloxi after eating an insanely nutritious breakfast of beignets (french doughnuts) covered in powered sugar at Cafe du Monde, a famous coffeeshop in the French Quarter. Once we reached Biloxi, we were all starving again so we had pizza at a local pizza shop, then hit Walmart and checked in at Camp Victor. Of course, we didn't count on still being full by dinnertime at 6, so most of us couldn't enjoy the spaghetti dinner, and just had salad instead. Oh well!

Tomorrow lights turn on at 6am, so I'll probably hit the hay early tonight...I'm already ridicously tired!

Fun-filled adventures

Hey! Mack here.

I think we should write a pamphlet on seeing everything New Orleans has to offer in under 24 hours because that is basically what we did. Granted we did not get much (or any) sleep, but it was a good time nonetheless. We got to see cajun dancing at Mullate's, I got to eat alligator (it really does taste like chicken!), and we went to Preservation Hall. I been looking forward to going there all week, and by golly it was worth it.

We just ate our first dinner at Camp Victor. I met some people from Michigan and Ohio we will probably be working with. Everyone is really cool. I can only imagine what the rest of the week has to offer. Despise the abnormally cold weather we been experiencing, I only expect the best to come. More later! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Our First Day

Hello there! This is Adam Flanagan; senior psychology major and photojournalist for the trip!

Continuing our story from the last blog, when we first arrived in New Orleans we had a driving tour of the 9th Ward. This location was one of the worst hit during Hurricane Katrina. It was interesting to see what has been built over three years since the storm, and also what has still not been done. After this insightful tour, we had a nice walk around town and ended up at the New Orleans’ flea market. We met many interesting people and bought a few souvenirs for our only day in this great city. We also ended up at Preservation hall, a famous jazz hall in which we heard a wonderful jazz band.

Well, off to sleep! I hope everyone out there is well! Tomorrow is our first day in Biloxi, Mississippi in which we will be going through our orientation. We will be learning the first steps of the skills we will need to help build houses! Wish us luck!

Adam Flanagan

Our house building team!

Photo by Adam Flanagan
A taste of New Orleans....

Photo by Adam Flanagan
Residents of the 9th ward...

Photo by Adam Flanagan

A compare and contrast image between a newly built Habitat for Humanity home on the left vs. a house still ruined by Hurricane Katrina.

Photo by Adam Flanagan

Hot-lanta is FREEZING!

We'll post more after dinner, but we have safely made it to New Orleans!

Due to the snow storm (yes, snow) in the south we had some bumpy travels in and out of Atlanta. When we finally landed in New Orleans it was 35 degrees! After breakfast we drove through the 9th ward and checked in to the hotel. We are staying at the Ambassador Hotel, which is very "New Orleans" with high ceilings, french-style decor and a great lobby! We took the trolley through the Garden District and now are trying to get some rest before dinner and dancing at Mulat's and an evening of jazz at Preservation Hall.