Recovery Isn’t Charity, It’s A Movement

Recovery Isn’t Charity, It’s A Movement

Jazz isn’t the only vibrating soul in New Orleans.

Twelve years later.

$81 billion in damages with recovery costs worth over $150 billion.

A category 5 hurricane causing 1,833 deaths.

More than 800,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged.

And yes, twelve years later, they still need our help.

I was nine at the time when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Most importantly, I was too young to understand how this storm hijacked the lives of thousands of people and the nation as a whole, and how it continues to do so.

As a twenty-one-year-old now, I figured they were well recovered and the city is back in place. Unfortunately, this was not the scenario once I landed in New Orleans, Louisiana this past Thursday. There was a total of five of us all connected through service and faith. We stayed with the kindhearted Sisters of Charity in the city of New Orleans for our service trip. Our first day of work was on Friday as we drove to the home of Mrs. A.

Mrs. A had lost her home during Katrina as the storm swept away all of her furniture, pictures, and valuable items. All that was left behind were tears, worries, and fear. It was deeply painful to learn that she is still recovering and twelve years later, she still hasn’t been able to be back home. Our eight-hour work day consisted of cutting bases, shelves, installing closet poles, footings, and sanding. These tasks were not easy but the team succeeded.

If you have never done construction, it is an incredible amount of hard work and long hours of labor. Your body fully feels its effects the following days and nights. We all took a moment at one point during the day to realize how our job, there that day, would help bring a family back home. I couldn’t even fathom this idea. The questions began as we wanted to know where they were living the past twelve years? How many times did they move? Why has it taken so long? How is Katrina still alive? How else can we help? What would you do if you were in Mrs. A’s shoes? How many other stories like Mrs. A’s are there?

There are hundreds of families in her shoes. All we know is the amount of resilience and strength she has along with a gallon of faith has kept her spirits going. This opened our eyes to realize that we have a hell lot of work to do. It is taking this long for Katrina, could you imagine how long it will take for Puerto Rico and Texas? The thought is heartbreaking but motivating at the same time.

The site supervisors were young adults from AmeriCorps volunteering for a nonprofit organization called SBP after the St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana. Their mission is “Shrinking time between disaster and recovery.” They live up to this mission every day. This phenomenal nonprofit was founded by Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney after they volunteered in New Orleans but when they saw the slow and inefficient progress made to help this broken community, they stepped up to help. Jazz isn’t the only vibrating soul in New Orleans.

Since 2006, SBP has helped rebuild homes for over 1,300 families with the help of over 180,000 volunteers in over 9 states. They are now in Puerto Rico and many other areas hit by natural disasters. Yes, they move rapidly because if they don’t, then who else will?

Why does this matter? This is a priority for everyone because twelve years will turn into thirty if we don’t get involved. These people are not charity, they are hardworking individuals that were impacted by a natural disaster and could not do anything else but leave to save their lives. They are not simply asking for money, these individuals are in dire need of support, love, understanding, hope, and your gifts and talents to help rebuild.

This is not a charity, this is a movement we are creating towards recovery. A movement to help bring stability, justice, and a sense of safety. It is a long journey ahead but an army in numbers will have a greater impact than a team of one.

Get involved. Get informed. Get out there and lend a hand. Start a fundraiser and start leaving your mark in this world. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you, yes you, helped a family find their way home. Whether it is volunteering with SBP, learning about the Sisters of Charity and their efforts, joining AmeriCorps, or donating $5.00 per month to SBP to aid in recovery efforts instead of you buying your Starbucks coffee each day, the opportunities are endless. You simply have to seek them out.

The experience and memories you make will last a lifetime. The friendships you develop and challenges you overcome will help you grow and nurture you into an empowering being. The skills you acquire will only add value to you. I urge you to take on this movement and continue it in any way that you can. You will thank me later for I am forever grateful to be a part of this.

Whether it is hurricane Katrina, Harvey, Maria, or Sandy, let’s not let this happen again. Instead of twelve years, let us aim for six years. These families need us and require of your manpower and talents to help them recover, rebuild, and welcome them home.

Start making your mark in this world. To learn, volunteer, and donate to the SBP movement and the Sisters of Charity, check out the following links:

Cover Image Credit: Karla Saltos

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The Top 5 Most Adorable TV Characters

They Have Ruled Our Hearts, Gave us Tears of Joy, as well as Hysterical Fits of Laughter with their Charming Screen Presence

Well, they have ruled our hearts, gave us tears of joy and hysterical laughter with their wit and charm, so let's take a look at some of the most lovable TV characters.

1.) Stewie Griffin ("Family Guy"):

He's a baby, everybody loves babies, you might think that but it's not that simple. He's got the IQ of a rocket scientist, devilish designs, and his heartiest wish is to kill his mother, so he's nothing like a baby. He shares a beautiful bond with his dog which is heartwarming to watch. There are so many interesting angles to his personality which makes it worth it to root for him despite his primal instinct - kill his mother and world domination.

2.) Jake Harper ("Two and a Half Men"):

We have another kid, but he's completely from another dimension. This one can win a contest for the dumbest yet cutest kid. He was the half man from the title but had an equal share in making this show what it was - watchable. He was the butt of many jokes in the show due to his general lack of smarts, understanding of words, and self-confidence, as well as being oblivious to the fact he was being made fun of.

3.) Sheldon Cooper ("The Big Bang Theory"):

You have to give it to the 22-year-old theoretical physicist who played this character to perfection. He is freakishly genius and he knows it, but most importantly he doesn't mind letting others know even if its a cop, a judge, or his friends who suffer the most by his quirky mannerisms including his love for "his spot", details, and trains. His devotion to science is so deep that he is oblivious to social cues, women, and even sarcasm. Although these traits make him intolerable for his friends, strangers or even anyone who crosses paths with him, the same faults make him the reason to watch this show.

4.) Barney Stinson ("How I Met Your Mother"):

We have the man himself - Barney Stinson, the guy who eases "awesomeness" and "legendary" into his character and the show like butter onto bread. He's not just a man- he's a religion, he has his own set of rules, codes, costumes, and theories... about getting laid. He's a God to every loser who sees himself dominating/ pretending to be an Alpha male of society- the man that every girl desires to be with. He is immune to disease, fashion disasters, and even a bad photograph. He has crazy theories that he backs up with fake history tales lied to perfection. His concept of lie is something which defines how awesome he is- "A lie is just a great story ruined by truth."

5.) Joey Tribbiani ("F.R.I.E.N.D.S"):

It wouldn't serve justice to this listicle or to the word adorable if I didn't include Joey Tribbiani- the man who made " How you doin'?" what it is. He is the only person who can be dumb, cute, and funny all at the same time. He was the only character out of the six who had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. He also senses the emotional needs of his friends and does everything possible to fulfill that need. He is the best character to be with when the chips are down, he can cheer up even Droopie. Joey is funny and he doesn't have to put in any effort to be just that. Maybe the fact that he owns an array of expressions which spill out humor and pour directly into our hearts, is the reason he doesn't have to try to be our favorite.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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Everything To Love About "Love, Simon"

"Everyone deserves a great love story."

Love, Simon, a film based on the book, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli came out on March 16th. Since then, it has received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews from movie goers. I went to see the movie last week and was extremely impressed. This movie is exactly what our society needs.

Years ago, the concept of being gay was a taboo and anything involving homosexuality carried a strong stigma. Many creative closeted individuals did not have the freedom to write stories or screenplays with queer characters. After members of the LGBT community became more normalized in society, we started to see the slow rise of films with characters reflecting different sexualities. I have watched multiple movies with queer characters, and ALL of the other ones I’ve seen have been tragedies.

While it is true that the process of coming out and living an authentic life can be difficult for queer people, it is not always tragic. Watching these movies makes people feel like non-heterosexual people cannot have happy endings. Imagine being a 14 year old kid in the closet and watching all these films that end with suicide, depression, or murder. It is easy to see why someone would not want to come out after being exposed to such horrific things. LGBT movies have also always been highly sexualized. Most of them center around the sexual relationships and lack substance. I feel like the writers think that the only appeal LGBT movies can have has to be sex.

The beauty in Love, Simon comes from the fact that none of the things I mentioned above were in the movie. Instead, it was hilarious, emotional and real. The story was raw and relatable for so many people. Simon was a normal high schooler, with best friends, a loving family, and homework to do. He did not fit the “gay” stereotype at all. His clothes were masculine, his voice was deep, and he didn’t love shopping. Simon was not the “Gay best friend” he was just the best friend. Simon was fortunate enough to have all these positive things in his life, which not everyone has. I think that this presentation of his life shows people that their coming out does not have to be tragic.

Simon’s coming out could not have been more realistic. He was outed to his school on an online platform, something that can happen easily in our technological age. He was very affected by this and knew he had to come clean to his family. His sister asked him if he wanted to deny it and he said he was tired of hiding.

His announcement shifted his family for a bit, something completely normal. Some movies have kids come out and show the parents instantly start a pride parade. This is usually not the case, especially when loved ones do not suspect anything. Love, Simon showed his parents trying to adjust to the news. They did not love him any less, but they needed some time to process the information, so that they could do their best for their son. There were days of silence in the family, but the silence was broken in memorable ways.

Simon’s talk with his mom had me in tears. His mom told him that for the past few years, she had felt like he was holding his breath, and tells him, “You can exhale now, Simon.” He could finally breathe and she was letting him know that she wants him to be happy and himself. His father apologized to him for making a lot of gay jokes before his coming out. He did not realize that his words may have been hurting his son, and he tears himself down for not realizing his son was gay. Simon tells him that he has nothing to be sorry about, because his coming out was something that could not be assumed.

Simon’s friends did not treat him any differently after his coming out, meaning that they did not give him any special treatment. They were upset with him for things, and worked it out later. His sexuality was not the issue.

At school, he was bullied by idiots, but he stood up for himself. I think that is something so important for the youth to see. Movies typically show gay kids cowering in a corner while being made fun of. Simon and the other out gay kid (a black character) in his school both stood up for themselves repeatedly, throwing out witty remarks and comments on occasion.

Simon’s online relationship with the other closeted kid in his school exemplified many relationships today. Kids will go online to search for people who they can relate to. With the touch of a button, they can connect with millions going through the same things they are. When Simon meets the person behind the screen, everyone is overjoyed.

The entire film was a masterpiece. Two LGBT characters were people of color. The rest of the cast was diverse as well. The movie did not feature an array of white people, like most movies do. Although there were many serious scenes that had me in tears, there was plenty of levity. The humor was current and made the entire theater laugh.

The representation for queer people in this movie is superb. Multiple members actually came out during the filming of this movie. If that doesn’t show you how positive and powerful this movie is, I don’t know what will. This movie is exactly what LGBT kids needed and I applaud the talented cast, the writers, and everyone else who had anything to do with the creation of this life changing movie.

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