Students to visit New Orleans on spring break humanitarian mission

Cal State Long Beach students will be going to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity as part of the fifth annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

Since 2006, CSULB has participated in the rebuilding of New Orleans and areas in the Gulf region that were affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita; both hurricanes hit the Gulf coast within weeks of each other. The damage from both hurricanes totaled $86.05 billion, according to the National Hurricane Center Web site.

Students will depart for New Orleans on March 28 and return April 3.

The trip is part of liberal studies chair Dan O’Connor’s special topics secondary education class, Politics of Disaster. Students involved in the ASB had to apply during the fall 2009 semester.

According to the ASB Web site, students will start each workday at 7:30 a.m. and will work until at least 3 p.m. Students are assigned to a home or project for the day and will work with a member of Habitat for Humanity, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building homes for low-income families and those affected by disaster.

Millard and Linda Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, which builds homes on five continents. According to the Habitat for Humanity Web site, in order to receive a home, families must apply to local Habitat affiliates.

Habitat for Humanity is not a giveaway program, however. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor — “sweat equity,” as the nonprofit says on its Web site — into building their house and the houses of others.

The affiliate’s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the loan.

Habitat for Humanity members have included former President Jimmy Carter, who volunteered regularly in building homes.

“Habitat has opened up unprecedented opportunities for me to cross the chasm that separates those of us who are free, safe, financially secure, well-fed and housed, and influential enough to shape our own destiny from our neighbors who enjoy few, if any, of these advantages of life,” Carter said on the organization’s Web site.

Students will be housed at the newly renovated Annunciation Mission parish hall located a short distance from the French Quarters. Each room sleeps six to 12 people in bunk beds.


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