Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meet Rachel Lau

Meet Rachel Lau. Rachel is from Olive Branch, Mississippi and she serves as a Site Supervisor for SBP in New Orleans. Rachel was a student at Arizona State when Katrina hit:

“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the magnitude of it--the pictures, the stories, the number of people from New Orleans who evacuated, the number of people who didn't. But it was almost more overwhelming as it unfolded and you realized that we didn't have a good system in place to help these people who had lost so much.”

Rachel received a graduate degree in Architecture from University of Virginia.  Why did you choose to serve with AmeriCorps after graduation?

“I believe that each person has at least one skill they can share with their neighborhood and in their community. It can be painting portraits or having a good set of ears or fixing cars or mowing lawns. For me, I love buildings. I love the stories of old buildings. And so I want my skill to be fixing houses--I want to be able to help a neighbor out when they want to gut their kitchen, and when I gut mine I'm going to hope I've got a neighbor who is there to help me!”

It’s been 9 years since Katrina. What can you say about your experience in New Orleans this long after the storm?

“I've been overwhelmed by the kinds of obstacles people are still faced with in moving back--everything from trying to prove ownership of their house because the paperwork they had was lost in the flood to finding themselves victims of contractor fraud to trying to work through the emotions they felt and faced during the storm and its aftermath.”

You’re building houses in the oppressive heat of New Orleans. What gets you through the day?

“The families we are helping are hardworking, generous people who are fighting to come home. The energy of their fight, their resilience despite so many obstacles, their enthusiasm for SBP and our mission...these are the things that keep me, my AmeriCorps peers/team and thousands of volunteers excited about putting hammer to nail.”

 To learn more about AmeriCorps or how you can share your talents through volunteerism, please visit our website: www.stbernardproject.org/get-involved/americorps

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