Mount Carmel celebrates 20 years serving Habitat for Humanity

On Feb. 20 Mount Carmel Academy volunteered yet again with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, but this time was special: it marked 20 years that Mount Carmel has been organizing groups of volunteers to serve Habitat for Humanity. Two decades after Suzanne Buras, Mount Carmel Academy’s Student Activities director, rounded up a group of girls at a Habitat build site, the students are just as passionate about this service.

“Throughout this year alone, over 350 Cubs have volunteered,” said Buras. “Over all 20 years, we have repaired and built 150 houses in the New Orleans area. Many students get hooked on this type of service: to work side-by-side with homeowners painting, building and doing repairs to their homes in order to help end blight in our city. Who could ask for more?”

Amy Arthur, the service learning coordinator for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, spoke kindly of the Mount Carmel volunteers. Although Arthur is fairly new to Habitat and working with Mount Carmel Academy, she said, “The girls are amazing. Anytime Mount Carmel comes, they take on any task we assign to them and do it very well.”

Many girls, such as senior Mary Trocquet, are so enthusiastic about Habitat that they volunteer several times a year.

“It is rewarding work and it is moving to see how our efforts can come together to change lives,” said Trocquet. Her fondest memory of Habitat was when the homeowner, an elderly woman, came to personally thank the Mount Carmel girls for repainting her house. Mary recalls, “She was so thankful, and I was so glad I could help.”

Senior Ashley Gremillion also has volunteered with Habitat several times and said, “It’s neat to see the fruits of my labor help someone else. It is touching to see how appreciative the homeowners are.” Of the 50 girls who volunteered on Feb. 20, many have volunteered once or twice before and all agree that Habitat for Humanity is their favorite service opportunity at Mount Carmel.

Junior Amelia Giorlando was so enthused about volunteering that she said, “I will absolutely volunteer with Habitat through Mount Carmel, but I also plan to volunteer on my own.” Amelia also said she thinks it is incredible that Mount Carmel has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for 20 years. She added, “I think it goes to show how generous our girls are. Service to others keeps us humble and thankful for what we have.” Junior Madeline Braud said she volunteered for the first time because her friends told her it was fun, but she has found the experience to be much more meaningful. “I love working alongside the people who will be living in this house,” she said. “They were so kind and we had great a conversation
while working.”

Whether the girls were volunteering for the first or fifth time, they all agreed that Habitat for Humanity has changed their perspective on service. Habitat is the most hands-on service that these girls have done, so they believe that their efforts are extra rewarding at the end of the day. As long as families are still in need of homes, the girls of Mount Carmel will continue to offer a helping hand.

Alexis Aviles is a senior at Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans.

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