If Not You Then, Who Dat?

If Not You Then, Who Dat?
Although they are separated by what is just a glorified lake, New Orleans and Tampa are vastly different places with so many different and unique experiences to offer. Although I’ve only been here in Louisiana for a short time, I’ve already learned so much about New Orleans and the culture that thrives here. Visiting this city has opened my eyes about the tenacity and determination of this community, and how millions of helping hands and small acts of kindness can bring a community back from disaster. This trip has just further reinforced what the Ryan Nece program has taught me time and time again; every person has an obligation to help others and the world around them.

When I first came to Camp Restore, I was, in all honesty, worried about falling off the bunk beds and walking outside to the showers in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the next morning at breakfast that I realized how much I appreciated where we ended up. Although hotels are glamorous, it felt good to be in an loving and close knit atmosphere and have a tight knit summer camp like experience with my SSP family. That morning I got to hear about the history of New Orleans from the woman who runs the camp and has lived here her whole life, and I got to eat some egg-scellent eggs with peers I feel I’m growing closer to by the minute.

Afterwards we visited a local elementary that was affected by Hurricane Katrina, our guest speaker recalled his own tough situation. Even with only thirteen dollars to eat for the month, he and his wife still gave two dollars to the church to benefit others. This was one of many lessons I learned at the school, and I was surprised to find that I have quite the knack for closet organization (though my room might prove otherwise). The entire experience was so satisfying and I wanted to stay there hour after hour. Although organizing supply closets doesn’t seem like the service work you’d see gracing a Red Cross advertisement, I knew the students and teachers alike would be grateful for what we accomplished. With all of our helping hands what would have taken one person hundreds of hours took us only six.

– Chloe Johnson