Today is my daughter’s 32nd birthday. And two years after Katrina, my daughter joined me and my wife as we all volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. From a young person’s perspective, my daughter really enjoyed the experience. Seeing her swing a hammer and help to hoist the roof trusses with two others, slowly climbing the ladder with the truss aloft, was really gratifying for me. As each person, sharing the weight of the truss, slowly took step by step in unison, the rest of the 30 or so volunteers applauded and cheered. It was a big deal to see the roof taking shape after days of work.
And each and every project that I’ve worked on in New Orleans has been a big deal too. They hold special memories for me, and those days are special days for the people we helped – like birthdays and well worth celebrating. And I hope that all of you who take time to volunteer — either on our May 19 Volunteer Day or with one of the two wonderful organizations listed on the conference website — also have a terrific work experience and make joyful memories. My daughter said volunteering was invigorating and satisfying on many levels:the work done, the friendships made, the exercise, and the gratifying outcome.
New Orleans itself is gratifying on many levels to. It’s high on the fun index for people of all ages, and then there’s the shopping, the food, and the chance to stretch your legs exploring all of it.
In addition to strolling the antique shops and souvenir shops in the French Quarter, take time to wander over to the French Market. This is a flea market type atmosphere with tons of vendors, all kinds of products from hats to t-shirts to jewelry to photos to dresses to shoes and of course souvenir stuff. All reasonably priced as you would expect, but don’t be bashful about haggling. And, as is always the case in New Orleans, there are food venues in and around the French Market too.
If you head over past the Harrah’s Casino heading south on Canal Street there’s another shopping experience worth checking out. The Riverwalk provides another opportunity to shop and eat, while strolling alongside the Mississippi River.
While strolling, turn and head back past the Aquarium and walk with the Mississippi on your right and Jackson Square and the Cathedral on your left. As you are high above street level on the Moon Walk, you’ll have a great vantage point with the city to your left and the river to your right. If you are into biking or jogging this route is also enjoyable, as you could finish your ride, walk or jog at Frenchman Street and grab a bite to eat and listen to some music before heading back through the Quarter to the hotel.
Until next time, have a great week and see you soon in New Orleans!
Director of Volunteerism and Vice President