Restoring New Orleans: National Trust Volunteers

Posted on: July 11th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

I recently had the pleasure of accompanying twenty-five friends of the National Trust to New Orleans where we spent one week volunteering through the Rebuilding Together New Orleans program. We worked on the interior of a house in the Hollygrove neighborhood, the exterior of a house in the St. Roch neighborhood and finished up the week organizing the salvage materials at RTNO's warehouse. The warehouse stores architectural details such as doors, windows, brackets, columns, etc. from demolished homes for resale. The RTNO keeps the price as minimal as possible - just enough to meet their warehouse operating expenses. The one rule they have is that the materials must be used in New Orleans. It's a way to recycle the local materials that would otherwise be lost.

The National Trust volunteer group really made a difference in New Orleans and everyone returned with a personally rewarding experience. Jessica Anderson, from Dallas, TX, described her time with the group:

"Having never been there before my trip with the National Trust, I must say that New Orleans is one of the most charming cities you can visit. While talking with locals during the week, I feel as though we may never truly know all the benefits the city will reap from the good work our team put forth during the week—it is obvious that the city of New Orleans will be continuously aided by the creativity, innovation and energy put forth by our group's members. I am grateful to the Trust for providing inspiring leaders who encouraged us throughout the week, regardless of how warm the New Orleans summer "breezes" may have been.

The tour of the historic section of the city introduced us to the beauty and calm that is quintessentially New Orleans. The old fashioned St. Charles Streetcar was wonderful, cruising along through town toward museums, the zoo, galleries, and, of course, the local watering holes – where the delightful mint juleps were enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Since returning home from the trip, I find myself not only reminiscing about the camaraderie that takes place while making midnight trips with new friends to Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets, but also the genuine Southern hospitality and charm – our trip proved to me that New Orleans literally has something for everyone, from the demure to the risqué!"

by Rachel Russell

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.