Skip to content

Gallaudet volunteers contribute to rebuilding New Orleans

March 26, 2010
By Todd Byrd
Arrow Buff

Share:

A group of Gallaudet students, accompanied by a staff member, flew to New Orleans, La., for Spring Break to volunteer with Rebuilding Together New Orleans (RTNO), a non-profit organization that renovates and rebuilds homes damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

RTNO focuses on homes owned by low-income people who are either elderly, have a disability, or are single heads of household with minor children. The organization’s goals for fiscal year 2009-10 include rebuilding 160 homes through the efforts of 6,000 volunteers.  

The Gallaudet volunteer team (pictured) was made up of students Krystin Balzarini, Malibu Barron, Michelin Barron, Lisa Craig, Joy Faychinaud, Laine Fisher, Betty Goodridge, Mercedes Hunter, Sean Kingsley, Stefanie Koren, team co-leaders John Bechhold and Monica Keller, and Community Service Program Coordinator Karen Terhune.

The group was assigned to a house owned by an elderly low-income woman (pictured standing, wearing a red sweater) in the city’s Ward 11 that was severally damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The owner, who had lived in the house for over 30 years, evacuated two days prior to the hurricane and was unable to return home for five months. Prior to RTNO taking on the project, no rehabilitation work had been performed and, consequently, the home remained uninhabitable.

The Gallaudet team reported to the worksite each day at 8:30 a.m. After being briefed on the day’s work by RTNO site manager Joey Bonanno (pictured toward front, with sunglasses), the students and staff were assigned specific tasks, including scraping off old paint, removing nails, caulking and puttying wood siding, and applying a fresh coat of paint to the exterior of the 135-year-old house. On the team’s final work day, the homeowner visited the site and met the team members. She was amazed at the tremendous transformation that had taken place, and effusively and emotionally thanked the team for its hard work.  

Interpreting services at the worksite were provided by Deaf Action Center, a social service and sign language interpreter agency in New Orleans.

While the team’s primary purpose for traveling to New Orleans was to perform community service, they did have some “down time.” For example, one evening the team rode the streetcar to the city’s famous French Quarter to view the boisterous St. Patrick’s Day parade. 

On their last day in New Orleans the team visited Ward 9, the area just beyond the city’s levees. The failure of these levees caused 80 percent of New Orleans to be flooded by between three feet and 20 feet of water.

26 March 2010
By Todd Byrd

Share:

Recent Posts

Roberto E. Wirth, E-’74 & H-’09, passed away on June 5 in Rome, Italy. Mr. Wirth was owner and managing director of the Hotel Hassler in Rome, one of the most prestigious family-owned hotels in the world, and owned several other hotels and resorts throughout Italy. He was a strong advocate for deaf people in...

Alumnus Timel Benton has signed a contract with the Bay Area Panthers of the Indoor Football League (IFL). Benton, who graduated last month, is the first Gallaudet Bison to sign a professional football contract since Tony Tatum signed on with the Utah Blaze in the now-disbanded Arena Football League (AFL) in May 2013. Benton was...

James Caverly, ’11, who plays Theo Dimas in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, will play Professor Harold Hill in the Olney Theatre Center’s summer production of Meredith Willson’s Tony-winning musical The Music Man, which opens tonight and runs through July 23. The show’s official opening is on Thursday, June 23. Sandra Mae Frank, ’13,...

About the Author

Todd Byrd

Recent Posts
Deaf hotelier Roberto Wirth passes away
Alumnus Timel Benton to play professional football
Alumni, faculty featured in The Music Man at Olney Theatre Center
Related Categories
Media Inquiries

For any other media inquiry, please contact:

No media contact found!

Stay up to date on all the Gallaudet happenings, both stories and initiatives we are doing with our Signing community!​

Admissions Requirements

Hearing Undergraduate