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:

http://sbpusa.org

http://schalifax.ca

Cover Image Credit: Karla Saltos

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9 Seasons, 8 Boxes of Tissues & 7 Lessons 'One Tree Hill' Taught Me

These blunt quotes really hit me hard during the 9 seasons of OTH

Life lessons can be found from your job, family, and even strangers. A handful of mine came from the hit TV show "One Tree Hill." The famous "Scott" brothers rivalry taught me how to give chances to those you never thought you would. Brooke and Peyton's friendship taught me that through the hardships that life brings, the right people will stay with you. Watching these characters turn into successful human beings while staying connected has taught me so many lessons that I apply in my everyday life. The quotes in this article are the ones that stuck with me the most. For this, I thank you, Mark Schwahn, for 9 seasons of pure bliss.


1. "It's not about what you say, it's about what you do. You don't like the person you've become then do something about it, because no one's gonna do it for you." — Peyton Sawyer

Everyone gets caught up in life; experiences change people, but you are human. You are your own person, so make sure you are happy with being that person. If not? Change your routine up a bit. This can be waking up an hour earlier to make a full breakfast, or skip watching the newest series on TV after work and go for a walk around the neighborhood. It really is the littlest things that can help shape you as a person.


2. "When your heart breaks, you got to fight like hell to make sure you're still alive. Because you are. And that pain you feel? That's life. The confusion and fear? That's there to remind you, that somewhere out there is something better, and that something is worth fighting for." — Nathan Scott

Everyone experiences a heartbreak or tragedy at some point in their life. If I've learned anything about it, it's that life goes on and it will get better. How you handle these events in your life will define your character and make you stronger for whatever comes next. Life is terrifying, but the beautiful thing about it is how you choose to respond to it. You only get one life, so make it worth living!



3. "Love means giving chances when there are no more chances left to give." — Haley Scott

This can feel extremely painful. If they are worth fighting for, do it. Every relationship/friendship has its rough patches and the outcome will be amazing if it's fixable. But if it's unbearable and it's damaging you as a person, leave. Love isn't always enough sometimes.



4. "Sometimes it seems like you are the only one in the world who's struggling, who's frustrated, unsatisfied, barely getting by. But that feeling's a lie. And if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find you and make it all okay." — Lucas Scott

Everyone is at a different point in their life. Don't compare your success to others because you never know the work they put in to get there. Be happy for those ahead of you and use it as a motivator, not a competition. Everyone lives a different life; be happy with where you are and continue to challenge yourself. Your time will come; patience is key.


5. "If you had a friend you knew you'd never see again, what would you say? If you could do one last thing for someone you love, what would it be? Say it, do it, don't wait. Nothing lasts forever." — Brooke Davis

Tomorrow is never promised. Whether this be a small compliment to a stranger at a grocery store or telling someone you love them. You are a bigger part in someone's life than you think you are.

6. "Until you let someone in, you'll always be alone." — Chase AKA Bar Manager

To all of the introverts out there: it's easy to shut people out, but set a goal for yourself each day, like starting a 30-second conversation in the elevator instead of listening to your earbuds. For me, this helps me get over my fear of "small talk." Day by day, you'll see subtle changes in your personality and engagement in your behavior.



7. "I've come to the conclusion that if having things turn out the way you wanted them to is a measure of a successful life, then some would say I'm a failure. The important thing is not to be bitter over life's disappointments. Learn to let go of the past. And recognize that every day won't be sunny, and when you find yourself lost in the darkness and despair; remember it's only in the black of night you see the stars. And those stars will lead you back home. So don't be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble and fall, cause most of the time, the greatest awards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you'll get everything you wish for. Maybe you'll get more than you ever could have imagined. Who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination." — Whitey Durham

Take pride in all of your accomplishments, ignore the people who belittle your mistakes, be thankful for your milestones, and find the courage in your fear. This is what makes life so fascinating.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Why Cool Girl Isn't So Cool

The implications of Cool Girl aren't as cool as she is.

Cool Girl--you've definitely heard of her. She's everywhere. She first became known after Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl made the term popular, but she has subtly and dangerously crept into our social consciousness for years now. In basic terms,

Cool Girl is the manifestation of the male fantasy (that is, the heteronormative male fantasy that it spoon fed to males daily), a girl who is both naturally hot and sexy and seemingly into all things sports, video games, etc. She does not ever complain, she loves to hang with the "bros," and she always wants to have sex. Boy, what a woman!

But Cool Girl isn't all fun and games. Yes, many women do love the aforementioned things, and there is no judgment surrounding women that love what our still very binary culture deems as "masculine," but what is problematic is the woman who is solely an extension of the male desire, which is what Cool Girl really is.

A woman who feels afraid to express how she is truly feeling in fear of losing her partner. A woman who is constantly performing. The insidious thing about Cool Girl is that she doesn't actually have a mind of her own--instead, she is a formula meant to be devoid of real human emotion and flaws. Cool Girl may exist, but she shouldn't.

Women no longer should feel the pressure to conform to the ideals that Cool Girl has laid out. The idea of her must no longer be fed by us. Why should we have to be her anyway? She is impossibly constricting, sucking out one's ability to think autonomously. So I say F*CK COOL GIRL.

I am not Cool Girl--instead, I am a woman who believes that her inherent worth is not reliant on the ability to please a man. Instead, I am a woman who has her own wants and desires, who refuses to be another cog in the misogynistic machine.

And yes, I can do this whilst eating a hot dog and watching football and loving sex, but no, I will not be doing this for the sake of any man. I will be eating and watching and fuc*ing because I want to.

The work of eliminating Cool Girl does not rely solely on women. Men are equally responsible for perpetuating this performative model, and this needs to come to a stop as well. If everyone is aware of her dangerous presence and what she actually signifies, then maybe we can start putting an end to her for good.

Eventually, the woman of "Gone Girl" cracks at the pressure of having to constantly be the perfect wife, the perfect cool girl. May we learn from her breakdown that Cool Girl is, in reality, not even that cool.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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