Wednesday, March 21, 2012

UIS students spend a week helping to rebuild New Orleans

Over 20 students from the University of Illinois Springfield spent a week in New Orleans helping to rebuild hurricane-damaged homes as part of their annual Alternative Spring Break trip March 11-18.

While they could have been on the beach, the students decided to spend spring break fixing up two badly damaged homes. The volunteers repaired studs, replaced drywall, installed insulation and helped with other tasks.

“We were going to go to Florida, but decided there was a bigger need for New Orleans because with Hurricane Katrina coming through six or seven years ago. They’re still rebuilding and need help,” said Kelsey Thompson, a UIS sophomore.

Students worked with HisHands2Go (HH2G), an organization created shortly after Hurricane Katrina to facilitate the continued need for volunteers. HH2G arranged housing and food for the students and coordinated work projects.

“I decided to come on this trip because I love to volunteer,” said Stephanie Rogers, a UIS sophomore. “I thought it would be amazing to get away for the entire week and spend my time helping people and getting things done.”

Students raised money for the trip through several fundraisers on campus, but still had some out of pocket expenses.

“It’s worth the fundraising, it’s worth the money you pay just to get out here and actually help people and see that your work is appreciated,” said Rogers.

Unlike past Alternative Spring Break trips, the students actually got to meet the families they were helping, shake their hands, and hear their stories. It was an emotional experience that the students will not soon forget.

“Not only am I making a difference in one homeowner or families life, but I’m making a difference in the community as a whole. That was important to me,” said Caitlyn Clausen, a UIS sophomore.

While students were working, they realize they were also learning during the trip.

“This experience is awesome for anybody,” said Brittany Young, a UIS sophomore. “You get a lot of team buildings skills here. I feel volunteering is really important because you get a sense of what’s out there, besides where you live.”

For more information on future Alternative Spring Break trips, contact the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center at or visit their website at

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