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Rhodes Rebuilds Plans Tenth Trip

Publication Date: 9/17/2010

Stephanie Cassell ’10 and Assistant Director of Residence Life Brent Owens work on gutting a house on the Fall Break 2009 trip to New Orleans.

As people all over the country are commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, members of Rhodes Rebuilds also are marking nine trips to the Gulf Coast since the disaster. The group, a student-run service organization dedicated to working on the coast to rebuild houses and communities, has been traveling to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and New Orleans since 2005 and is in the process of planning a tenth trip this fall.

“Since it has been five years, we decided to focus our attention more on New Orleans,” says Rhodes Rebuilds president Isaiah Swanson. “You would be surprised when you go down to that city that there is still a lot of work to be done. The more poverty stricken areas have had an especially hard time finding resources to rebuild homes. Rhodes Rebuilds comes in and helps them finish the job.”

The group works with other, local non-profit organizations in New Orleans to help struggling areas with the rebuilding process. Rhodes Rebuilds is the only service organization on campus that hosts both a fall break and spring break trip each year. To celebrate the fifth year of the club, Swanson says he wants the group to have more of a presence on campus.

“We want to continue to raise money,” Swanson adds. “And to raise more than we did before so that not only can we afford to go down [to New Orleans], but we can afford to make donations to groups that are continuing to work there, especially with the oil spill. We want to make [Rhodes Rebuilds] a larger face on campus.”

Because of the group’s growing popularity, Swanson is instituting an application process for the fall break trip for the first time this year.

“When it started, there were eight or nine people going,” says Swanson. “And last year we had 25.” Swanson explains that many volunteer groups find a smaller size more manageable.

Faculty sponsor Jane Wells has traveled to New Orleans on the spring break trips for the past four years. She says she hopes to see Rhodes Rebuilds continue to help the city. She and Swanson also have discussed expanding the group’s influence to include service trips to places as far as Haiti.

“We should keep New Orleans close,” says Wells. “It is an area that still needs work so we don’t want to forget about it or let it go. But to renew interest and expand on the mission of Rhodes Rebuilds, a trip to Haiti would be really good.”

Rhodes is hosting a series to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in which Rhodes Rebuilds members will participate.

For more information, or to make a donation to Rhodes Rebuilds, contact Isaiah Swanson at swaid@rhodes.edu.

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ′13)

Tags: Campus Life, Service, Staff, Students

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