Wow! So this is the full Mardi Gras effect? Living on the parade route has been nice for accessibility to the fun but also a little hard to take a break from it. All in all, it is very easy to see why the community enjoys this time of year and this has been a very memorable experience for my time in New Orleans for this program.
In regards to my community service during February, I have continued to work with NAMI on a weekly basis around our class schedule. This month I continued answering the Helpline, intermittently helping callers with receiving resources for housing information primarily, though most often transferring calls around the office. When the phone was not ringing much, I developed several informational sheets that may come in handy for future callers and visitors. The topics these documents covered included Medicare coverage of psychiatric services, Oxford House locations (for patients living with substance abuse disorders), and most interestingly the Operation Angel program in Covington. The Operation Angel program is a partnership between Covington Police Department and New Orleans Mission, which has a Giving Hope retreat center in Lacombe. The program allows for individuals with substance abuse disorders to independently seek assistance from the Covington Police Department without any fear of arrest, crime charges, or time in jail. This program seems to highlight the growing understanding of substance abuse as a mental illness rather than a crime. I will be interested to see if such a program will expand to New Orleans.
In addition to my work with NAMI, I also assisted the Red Cross with disaster assessment the Saturday after the tornados that occurred in East New Orleans. Anuj, Sami, Victor and I rode in a car provided by the Red Cross through the primary neighborhood that was affected. The sector we were given had very little damage, but literally across the main street we were assigned were some of the worst affected families. Roofs were entirely removed, cars flipped over, and trees fallen over those houses with roofs still intact. You really had to feel for these people who didn't know that morning that their lives would significantly change later that day due to something that had no capability to control. And yet as we drove through, community members were working to rebuild, and I think that says a lot about the resilience of this city and its people.
February Community Service Hours - 18
Total Hours - 24