ASB students making news

Check out this article in the Morris paper!  

It is a wonderful story about Erica Jensen and her ASB experience.  She tells 

how she is committed to being an “active citizen” for the rest of her 

life.  What a wonderful impact the ASB program had on her! 

http://www.morrisdailyherald.com/articles/2008/06/06/tangent/36no.txt

Way to go Erica!  :) 

A Prayer for New Orleans from ASB ’08

Written and presented by Corey McCord for the ASB Chapel Hour in Evelyn Chapel on Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Katrina Victims have seen more than the loss of a home

While we are camping in hope

They make their tents in camp despair

They simply long for an ear

Men and women who lived, breathed and spoke New Orleans

Now bask in loneliness

Their neighbors who they once played cards with, ate dinner with and shared in existence

Now converse with them in complete silence

Many say silence brings solace

Yet, it only reminds them of what they lost

Bodies covered in blankets on a bridge served as a makeshift cemetery

No amount of money can assuage the pain of lost

Babies drowned in extreme poverty from the lack of

Food, clean water and communal care from the nation as a whole

Furniture and ordinary slabs of wood became life boats

As the Justice League and the Teen Titans

Could be seen along the ravaging sea fighting with soap

They were eager to clean away the plague of social negligence

In order to preserve their loved ones from undue pestilence-

an unsympathetic government

Aid did not come from the national commonwealth

Aid came from the hearts of ordinary citizens like you and me.

If patriotism does not exist

In the passion of the steadfastness and commitment to duty we exhibited;

We bear no nationality

Except that which the Divine has coined

God’s children.

We reach out beyond ourselves to grasp those who’ve slipped

To catch them before they reach the pavement

We reach out and grasp those who are high on death

To bring them back to earth’s firmament

When the divine coined the term Angel,

Guardian Angel:

Who would have thought that the Divine would be speaking of us.

We rolled up our selves to gut houses

We walked the 9th ward with a stethoscope and a purpose

We painted over the dark black and grey hues of downtrodden New Orleans

Renewing the city with the color of sunshine

As Angels we walk with a purpose.

Each and everyone of us

Who took time the time out to become apart

Of the history and existence of New Orleans

Have transformed from strangers to family.

We have to remember:

Family does not abandon,

Family does not make excuses for not being there;

Family cares.

Our hearts and souls will will be forever connected to New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

For the victims of Katrina, moreover- the victims of social negligence

We pray for your health as your existence is something we eternally cherish

As a community of God’s children

We need to continue to reach out to New Orleans

So they can know someone is caring.

April 2, 2008

Transformation

It is interesting to see how much of a change someone can go through as 

a result of one experience. When we decided to go on this trip to New 

Orleans, no one had a clue about what was in store for us, and what we 

would be getting ourselves into. When we arrived at Camp Hope, some of 

us were more optimistic than others. However, as the days went on, and 

after reflecting upon all of our experiences at different sites, we 

began to gain a new understanding of why we were here. Devastation, 

death, and destruction are present everywhere in New Orleans, and we 

got to witness that first hand, and it was worse than any of us could 

have imagined. However, the most amazing aspect of it all is that the 

people of New Orleans still have optimism, hope, and faith that their 

city will be rebuilt – that their families and communities will be 

rebuilt.  

This trip has caused us to reevaluate what we stand for and how we 

choose to live our lives.  However, we can all agree that what we have 

taken out of this trip is appreciating the smaller things that life has 

to offer, and that the simplest act of kindness can make a world of 

difference to someone else. – The Honey Bees

Back in Bloomington

We have returned safe and sound! 

Back in Bloomington after an exhausting and illuminating trip to New Orleans, the students, faculty and staff of the 2008 ASB trip unloaded the bus and went our various ways some driving home for Easter, others back to dorms, all with hope of a nice hot shower and warm comfortable bed.

 Keep checking out these posts because in the next week more student reflections and a photographic reflection of our week will be posted.  If you are in town, join us for Chapel Hour on Wednesday, April 2 at 11:00 a.m. at Evelyn Chapel where the ASB group will share with all who are present what was seen and experienced on the trip and what we bring home with us to the Bloomington-Normal community.  It will be a Chapel Hour about hope. 

One Person’s Story

While canvassing the neighborhoods of the lower 9th ward, our student nurses were privileged to listen to stories of people who lived through hurricanes Betsy and Katrina, people whose lives continue to be challenged and changed each day.  This is one person’s story . . .  

During our week of canvassing the Lower 9th Ward, speaking with 

residents, assessing their health and referring them to

the newly established Lower 9th Ward Community Health Clinic, one of 

our groups ran across a man, sitting on his porch,

by the initials of L.D.  In the course of our health assessment, we 

discovered L.D. was very severely visually impaired.

Several days earlier, people had broken into his house and stolen his 

glasses and all his contacts, along with many other 

personal items and information.

We sat with L.D. for a short time and he told us his story.

L.D. has lived in that old brick house ever since he was a child, and 

thus far, the structure has survived the flooding

of both Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Katrina.  When Hurricane Betsy 

struck, L.D. was only a senior in high school.  L.D.

and his family had stayed to ride out the storm, but were forced to 

evacuate their home in search of higher ground when 

the water rose to the top of L.D.’s chest.  He and his family waded 

through the water for nearly a half mile before they 

found refuge on the third floor of a middle school.

Years later, L.D. became an elementary school teacher and worked at 

that same school where he had sheltered back in 1968.  

By pure coincidence, his assigned homeroom was the very room where his 

family had stayed during the storm!Just prior to Hurricane Katrina, L.D. transferred to Louis Armstrong 

Middle School, and again, was assigned a homeroom of 

the exact room number of the room he stayed in during Hurricane Betsy!  

However, he was in charge of a class for only

five days before the residents of New Orleans were ordered to evacuate. 

 This time, L.D. evacuated, albeit late.  If he had not, L.D. might not 

be here today. Caddy corner on the next block, his 

neighbor drowned in his own home.  Down the road, L.D.’s cousin drowned 

in the street.  

 Across the street, two men survived

the initial flood by taking shelter on their respective roofs.  One man 

was rescued by a boat three days later.  The other

man had been missed.  Seven days later, desperate from dehydration, 

that man drank some of the flood water.  He was dead

within three days from massive septic infection. Four little girls and their mother, all of whom L.D. had taught, 

drowned during the storm two blocks over.  His school was

unable to be salvaged and it was demolished.  Among the survivors, 

stories were told of dead bodies, many of them former

neighbors, floating in the streets.  It was said the alligators, which 

began to inhabit the neighboorhood, were even seen 

eating on the newly drowned corpses.  Residents battled with bayou 

snakes and rats.

L.D. now lives in the gutted out shell of his childhood home.  He now 

has nothing and lives off of the food stamps he 

receives on a regular basis.  

Though we will refer him on to people to help him get his life back 

together, L.D. told us how tired he was of the 

current state of affairs.  He plans to move on from his current 

location, frustrated by the slow progress of rebuilding his

neighborhood due to red tape, governmental bureaucracy, and unfair 

politics.  

One day, things will get better here.  Neighborhoods will rebuild and 

communities will grow.  For now, the people take it

day by day.  For us, it is about reaching out and helping one person at 

a time, showing the residents they aren’t forgotten, 

listening, and doing what we can to build up this devastated community. 

– Erik Thronson for The Eastern Brown Pelicans

Simple Gestures

Its funny how the smallest and most random moments in life can have the biggest impact. Although the food at camp is surprisingly yummy, all week I have desperately wanted WheatThins for some random reason so when the offer came to ride the van to the Walgreens that is 15 minutes away (Yes 15 minutes! No Walgreens on every corner here.), I quickly grabbed some cash and went along. After picking up the WheatThins and some Diet Pepsi, I got into line. As I was swiping my debit card, the cashier looked me straight in the eye and said “We really appreciate you being here.” At first I was completely shocked at the amazing customer service. Wow! The people back home barely say have a nice day and this woman was giving me a heartfelt thank you for shopping at the local Walgreens! I soon realized that she was not thanking me for my purchase but instead for being in the city and doing a small part in helping these people get back on their feet. I know it may seem simple, but that moment has had the biggest impact on me thus far. The woman had nothing tangible to thank me for, but she took a moment to say thank you anyways. It really made me think about all the things tangible and intangible that we never say thank you for and how the simplest gestures can really have an impact on someone you don’t even know. Eating the WheatThins later that night was even better after the experience!  :)

 – Abby Sullivan for The Green Tree Frogs

Returning

Today a small group of us went back to the old nursing home to continue our demolition work. Though I volunteered for the project, I initially wasn’t so sure I’d be up for another day of pulling down ceiling tiles, breaking through walls with giant sledgehammers, pushing giant wheelbarrows, and wearing those stifling masks and gloves. As it turns out we were more than ready for our second day. In fact, we were the first group to unload the supply truck and the last to leave the site.

As we left I realized just how much we had accomplished with only two short days of work. We started with a massive building which had hardly been touched and by 4pm today you could see through every wall and every ceiling!!! I just cannot get over how much of that building we were able to take down in only twelve hours and with no experience whatsoever.

Just think about how much we could do for the people of New Orleans and for people all over the world if only we would all get over our initial reservations about projects we may find challenging and if only we would all spend just a few hours doing something that we thought we’d never do.

– Kelly Petrowski for The Green Tree Frogs

Creative Expressions

One night for reflection, the Green Tree Frogs were challenged to creatively express what they were experiencing.  Here are a few creative expressions . . .

Stripped

The world stripped clean,

Lives changed forever.

Past remembered.  Hope.

– Bridget McFadden for the Green Tree Frogs

Project Poem

And Camp Hope said

     Let there be sledge hammers,

     crow bars,

     safety goggles,

     sun block

     and AGGRESSION!

On that day,

The Great Wall of China cowered in fear

of our mighty motivation

and of our demolition derby tools.

On the second day of the week, Camp Hope said:

      Let there be paint,

      scrapers,

      ladders,

      insect repellent,

      and the color ORANGE.

The house became imbued by freshly squeezed tangerines.

Our derrieres have residue of work turned into play

like glue and kids from first grade

as they are stained with orange hand prints

like our project was to beautify our denim canvases

      with finger paint.

– Corey McCord for the Green Tree Frogs

Life as a House

On Tuesday, the student nurses went to the lower 9th ward to educate residents about a local health clinic.  We connected residents to vital community resources and screened for high blood pressure and diabetes.  Our job is complicated by the fear and disorganization of the neighborhood.  People refused to open their doors.  They live in gutted out homes.  Most are the only ones to inhabit a home out of a whole block of homes.

Billy owns the only two story house on the block, a camelback shotgun house.  When the hurricane came, Billy and his father stayed behind.  As the water from the broken levy rose over the first story of this house, up to the balcony of the second story, Billy and his father helped neighbors climb on to their balcony.  One neighbor floated using an electrical wire to keep from being swept away with the current.  For days, Bill and his neighbors waited for help. 

Two and a half years later, Billy and his father are rebuilding his home.  Despite flood and mold damage, Billy wants to rebuild his life.  To him, the house reminds him of survival and gives him hope for the revival of his neighborhood.

Other changes are rapid.  Yesterday, a student nurse met Randolph who has high blood pressure.  After discussing ways to lower his blood pressure, he mentioned that he did not take his medication for the day.  On a follow up visit, the same student nurse reassessed Randolph’s blood pressure.  He told the student that he had taken his blood pressured medication that day.  Through visitation and reminding people that self care even in the midst of devastation and struggle is critical, the student nurses realized that at the end of the day our work in NOLA (New Orleans, LA) gives hope to those still in the lower 9th ward by letting htem know they are not alone — they are not forgotten.

 When we return to Illinois Wesleyan we will bring with us this important understanding and this critical knowledge:  that an active community is one of the best health resources available.

The Eastern Brown Pelicans

Excavation

For many of the people in our group (Catahoula Hounds), our trip to 

New Orleans has been one big excavation. 

 Marli, who was part of the group who gutted out a former nursing home,   found pictures and mementos of patients who used to stay there. She says                    it was an emotional time for her, realizing how difficult it must have been for                                    the people to just leave all of their personal belongings behind. While taking out 

furniture, a box of cigarette and lighter fell on Craig’s head. He 

thought that the patient was probably hiding those from the nurses. We 

all thought it was pretty cool how digging through those ruins led him 

to also (accidentally) find out someone’s secret.

 Today, I was with Lauren and the other nursing students. They went 

from home to home to check the residents’ blood pressure and give them 

information about the medical center and other helpful and free 

resources available to them. Walking the streets of the Lower 9th Ward 

and looking for patients was a hunt in itself. In Delery Street, only 7 

out of the 61 houses (some still in shatters) we saw were inhabited. 

Pretty much of St. Bernard’s Parish was deserted. So there goes our 

mission—four girls trekking a dead town, in search for people, under 

the scorching, Louisiana heat. However, when we did find a resident, it 

was a treat—like the 41 year old  man mowing his lawn or the “spicy” 

grandma living in the big, peach house–as we got the opportunity to 

hear their experience and stories before, during the hurricane and the 

aftermath.

 These little anecdotes show how our group “excavated” not just the 

tourist-infiltrated French Quarter we got to visit the other day, but 

the real New Orleans: the city that after almost three years still has 

an empty K-mart store and hundreds of dilapidated homes; the city that 

was not only hit by the hurricane, but also whose levees broke that 

left hundreds of people dead and many more homeless; the real New 

Orleans whose citizens are constantly disgruntled by aggravatingly 

bureaucratic insurance companies, fraudulent contractors and their 

neighbor-turned-thieves, and who are unfortunately jaded by the 

government’s inaction, indifference and downright irresponsibility! 

 But I also think these stories reveal how much we dug about 

ourselves… 

Yesterday, Hope, Ro, Jessica, Teddy and I were among those 

who went to St. Margaret’s, a nursing home. That’s where I got to meet 

Stella. Stella’s a nice, old lady, who didn’t respond much to my 

questions other than a blink or two. So when I asked her which book she 

wanted me to read (it was a choice between “Matilda” and the New 

Testament) and she said “yeah” when I held the second book up, I 

immediately knew I had to read the Bible to her. To tell you the truth, 

I was very reluctant and I didn’t think she would be interested to 

listen or respond to what I read. But I tried anyway. I started with 

the story of St. Paul and how he turned from a murderous persecutor to 

a spirited missionary. And lo and behold, Stella kept blinking away, 

laughing and smiling in response to the miraculous change in Paul’s 

life. After that, she wanted me to continue, so I read to her some of 

my favorite verses, and I would hear a loud “yeah” every time I spoke 

about Jesus, healing, forgiveness, heaven and HOPE. Just by Stella’s 

little movements, I knew she was happy that morning. Never in my life 

did I think I would have one of the most wonderful conversations in my 

life by reading the Bible with an old, bed-ridden woman. 

 That and countless stories that my group experienced through the ASB 

show our own sweet discoveries about life and our views about the 

world. For me, I realize that even though I cannot expect some people, 

like the American government, to help solve the problems in New 

Orleans, I can still choose to be optimistic. My time with Stella 

reveals that I can never underestimate the power of miracles and how 

they can change a person’s day, even life. Being an International 

Studies major, I realize that no matter how depressing circumstances 

may be for the world right now, I can still choose to pursue a career 

in Development and make a difference. I can choose to dig deeper and 

find innovative solutions. I can choose to believe in hope and be a 

beacon of hope. – Marie-Claudine E. Villacorta for The Catahoula Hounds