Spring Break in New Orleans, Day 5: Milestones

Day 5

Hey everyone, again from New Orleans! Today was a milestone day for many reasons. For starters, many projects got wrapped up (or at least close to wrapped up). We got the entire exterior of Miss Ellen’s bathroom finished, and it looks gorgeous. We even made serious progress on the interior of her bathroom, and just have some finishing touches to make tomorrow before we’re done. After passing in and out of Miss Ellen’s home today, our group has drawn some conclusions about poverty and the impoverished.

All day, every day, a steady stream of people flow in and out of Miss Ellen’s house. On Monday, we remarked that “the place was hoppin’.” This flow of people represents Miss Ellen’s family, who comes in to sit with her, watch the “Ellen Degeneres Show” with her, and make sure she’s doing all right. Miss Ellen, never leaving her throne in the living room, seems to be “the nucleus of the family,” as Keaton Becher ’13 remarked. We even cracked jokes about how she seems like the “Queen of New Orleans.”

A misconception that we found ran in our group, leading us to assume that it is a common one, is that poverty leads to broken families and general chaos. The respect that Miss Ellen’s family displays toward the matriarch of their family proves us entirely wrong.

A similar example is that of Pastor Washington, a local minister who was kind enough to offer his church’s fellowship hall for us to eat in today. Pastor Washington built his own church from the ground up, and has been in the ministry for 44 years. At 85, he is a shining example of how poverty plays no role in defining faith, happiness, and the respect that someone can command within their community. It was noted that as Pastor Washington sat out on his front porch, almost every car passing by would shout out “Good afternoon, Pastor!” The sense of family and the respect for others that still resides in the community of the lower 9th ward is something that any community should strive to emulate.

I’ll wrap it up, as we’re making a final trip to Winn-Dixie for the evening to get snacks, but I’ll let you in on another little “milestone” for me today, pun intended. Today, after a long 6 weeks of rehab, I ran my first entire pain-free mile! Thought you’d all like to know.

Have a good one, Wallies.


Veteran Lower 9 volunteer, John, preparing dinner. Doubles as a professional chef.

The dudes playing euchre after dinner.

Our comfy beds. Like a big cold dorm!

Miss Ellen’s work group clowning on the trip from the mission to the lower 9th ward.

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