So much work still to do in New Orleans.

Teens dedicated to helping New Orleans.

For the past 4 years, the teens of the Youth Group of St. Stephen's Church in Seattle have made it their mission to visit New Orleans every summer and help the men and women of the 7th and 9th Ward (the neighborhoods that were hit the worst by Hurricane Katrina and Rita) and rebuild and fix up their devastated homes. These days the damages of Hurricane Katrina and Rita are not widely publicized but in reality the damaging effects are still a very real issue. Block after block in the 7th and 9th Wards are full of empty lots and broken-down houses. The teens of this youth group feel that this is a major issue that is being ignored by much of the country. They work year round to raise money by holding events and profit dinners so that each summer we can work in New Orleans. New Orleans is a flourishing center of culture but it is also a flourishing center of some of the most impoverished and neglected people in the country who deserve to be helped. For the past four years we have worked on the houses of elderly men and women in the 7th and 9th Wards whom we met through personal relations with a member of the church that they all belong to. Each year we gain more youth to join us and this past summer more than 50 teens journeyed down to New Orleans and continued to work with the communities at rebuilding their homes and lives. We have all made personal connections to these people and consider them as family. We have continued to work on many houses throughout the past four years but we have also acquired many new houses. From year one, we have worked on a house belonging to Miss Dorris. The first year we met Miss Dorris she was living in her FEMA trailer and her house had a giant hole in the ceiling, no floor, no walls, and was completely destroyed. Over the past three years we have built a new ceiling, put in flooring, put up framing and walls, siding on the outside, insulation, drywall, put in electricity, and much more. Last summer we focused mainly on Miss Dorris, who before we arrived in New Orleans, received a letter that she must move out of her FEMA trailer and into her house. Her house was nowhere near ready to move into and thankfully she received a 90 day extension on her move. Working on houses, we naturally were legally required to be inspected on a weekly basis. The inspectors have told us that our work rivals professional contractors and in most cases, we do a much better and cleaner job than they do. We are constantly acquiring new youth group members who are eager to come with us to New Orleans. Our program has attracted many teens that are all passionate about New Orleans and helping our dear friends in the 7th and 9th Wards. We have worked on many homes and have become neighborhood friends. Now-a-days there are only two church organizations in the entire country who are dedicated to helping the 7th and 9th Wards; a church in Illinois and us. We are completely dedicated to helping the people of New Orleans and are eager to work each summer. It is rare to find a group of teenagers who would rather work hard in 110 degree weather each summer than visiting the local pool with their friends. The people of the 7th and 9th Wards are very loving and very gracious for the work that we have done completely from our hearts and we are all excited to return this summer in 2010.

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