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Spring and Summer in New Orleans

Spring was a busy time in New Orleans with the celebration of Mardi Gras which, this year, occurred in February. Here it is not just a one day affair as in many places limited to “Fat Tuesday” or the day before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally it is a day of celebration before the solemn season of Lent.  Here the celebration starts around Jan 6, the feast of the Epiphany with eating “King cakes” and putting up Mardi Gras decorations. At the end of January and the first two weeks in February the parades began. Everything here moves at a different rhythm during those weeks. The “weekend” here expands to include Wednesday or Thursday and everything closes the days before “Fat Tuesday”.  Traffic slows to a crawl and most agencies using volunteers close down. Duchesne House staff and friends went to several parades – it is how we replenish our supply of beads to gift each volunteer who comes!

However, after the break in February, our house got busy in March! So many schools have their Spring break in March that we are usually full and March 2015 was no exception. We welcomed the University of Michigan March 1-7, Emmanuel College Boston March 7-14, the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan March 14-21, the Convent of the Sacred Heart 91st Street, New York City, and the University of San Diego, California the last week in March until April 6.

While most of these spring groups focused on rebuilding projects some worked with environmental groups doing urban gardening and promoting green energy or wetlands restoration. The University of San Diego included both college students, faculty and community educators who focused on the challenges of the urban diversity and the city’s unique cultural environment and history.  They arranged for input from film makers and writers as well as local educators.

In April we welcomed LaSalle Academy from Providence, RI. In May the University Of Dayton, Ohio joined us. June is full with two groups from Georgetown Prep, Bethesda, Maryland the first two weeks and St. Ignatius Prep, San Francisco, California for the last two weeks of June until July 3.

In mid-July a special group of young women from Sacred Heart Schools all over the country will be here for the Sacred Heart Summer Service project. This year there are 14 service projects sponsored by the Network of Sacred Heart Schools. Rebuild Nola  is one. We will welcome ten students from six schools: Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Newton, Massachusetts, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Bethesda, Maryland, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City, Duchesne Academy, Omaha, Nebraska and Academy of the Sacred Heart – Rosary right here in New Orleans.

One international volunteer from France, Marie Tapiac joined us for several weeks beginning in mid-July.