Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Louisiana: Spring Break 09
For our service learning trip, ten Eckerd students embarked on a journey up to the Louisiana bayou to a town called Houma. With the Presbyterian Disaster Relief volunteer camp as our base, we worked daily in hurricane relief for the Houma Nation, an as yet federally unrecognized Native American tribe in the bayou area. Because of the government not granting this group official reservation status, they have had a lot of trouble getting aid from FEMA. For this, they still suffer devastation from Katrina-Rita hurricanes in 2005, which was further exacerbated by hurricanes Gustav and Ike just this past September. We stepped in where FEMA was lacking.
Each day over the week-long trip we visited the home of a different Houma family, assisting where they needed help. At one home, we extricated black mold from a house which was causing respiratory problems in the ailing mother. Another visit was made to the home of man named Perry who showed us his shrimping boat and whose lumber we helped move. We also painted a woman's porch, cleaned out a hundred-year old tribal school that was in session when Indians were segregated from public schools, and organized food and clothing donations at a relief center for Houma Indians.
Friday we were presented with a hospitable cultural night put on by some United Houma members, including a traditional shrimp, rice and sausage dinner with the best bread pudding for dessert as well as a Zydeco music performance and storytelling. We headed to New Orleans the following morning, seeing the devastation of the Ninth Ward and experiencing the culture of the Big Easy.