A Gloria-ous Day at the Garden

A Gloria-ous Day at the Garden
This is my first time visiting NOLA and the experiences I’ve gained are amazing, especially being able to witness the affects of the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. For the first two days we worked with the KIPP K-8 school and also observed the great diverse culture of NOLA with the food, music, architecture, and the people! Beignets from Café du Monde…YUM! The best part about it was seeing how the people throughout the city are connected to one another and are willing to help each other. An example of this was with Mr. Twitchell, President of a Committee for Better New Orleans, stated that everyone in this city chose to be here and that they are trying everything they can to make a more positive change in the society. It is Day 3 in New Orleans and personally my favorite so far!
   Today we worked at a garden which was run by Gloria, a fantastic and loving woman, which I will always remember. When we first reached there, you could see the tons of weeds over the dirt and some plants that Gloria had grown over her 8 years in New Orleans. She talked to us about how when she first came, everything was destroyed by the hurricane damage and that inspired her to contribute to the community by having a beautiful garden. We were split to different groups and I worked with five others on first taking out the weeds. Ah, this process was challenging as we faced the DANGEROUS FIRE ANTS which if they bite you, it will stay for 6 months!!! However, we were rescued by the gloves (except for Savvas, RIP), and were able to successfully​ take out most of the weeds. Moving on, we then had to cut black plastic sheets to cover the existing dirt. This was one of the many gardening techniques which Gloria taught us, and this specifically helped prevent weeds to grow in the future. We measured and cut specified lengths to fit the different areas by the tires where we would later place the new plants in. Furthermore, using the mulch that another group had helped pile up, we transported the mulch to on top of the sheets with the wheelbarrows. Eventually, after the group’s hard work in the garden, we were able to place the plants and flowers throughout the garden. This put a huge smile on Gloria’s face as we were fortunate enough to help her recover her garden after the disastrous impacts by the past hurricanes and tornadoes. The final product we made with the garden was spectacular, all due to the group and Gloria herself who greatly influenced us to work with her caring personality.
  This day with Gloria clearly shows to me the Power of Giving which is what every single one of us in the foundation seeks to portray through the service projects we do. We saw that New Orleans is a city, which still needs help after Katrina, and we believed we must go there and make an impact in the community directly. Gloria was very excited to see us coming to help her, and in return we felt our sense of giving back to the community which is one of the best feelings​ to have in one’s heart. This service trip has helped me grow a better bond with the group and experience the unimaginable in the city of New Orleans with KIPP and especially Gloria’s Garden. #IfNotYouThenWhoDat
- Rushabh Shah