We were assigned to two different jobs today, on our service trip to New Orleans. One crew went to work at Rev. Josie’s food pantry, bagging groceries for people in need to pick up. The second crew went to work for Growing Home; I was part of the second group.
Growing Home is a non-profit agency that helps people claim vacant houses next door to them. According to their Web site: “Buy the lot next door, beautify it, and we’ll deduct money off the purchase price. The Growing Home program of New Orleans would like to help. Through Growing Home you can receive up to a $10,000 discount off the cost of a qualifying Lot Next Door for landscaping improvements that you make to the property.”
We went to the house of a Mrs. Washington, who was improving the lot next to hers with the help of Growing Home. Abigail, a landscape architect who works with Growing Home, had designed some nice plantings, and we began digging out plots for the plantings. After we had been working for about two and a half hours, a thunderstorm moved in, and after waiting half an hour we decided to take our lunch break. It just poured buckets of rain, maybe three inches in an hour. When the rain finally stopped, all the areas we had dug out were filled with water.
We figured out a way to keep working, which meant getting incredibly dirty. (Some of our crew took pictures of us at the end of the work day, and I will try to post some of them here eventually so you can see just how dirty we were.) Abigail had to get a truck load of soil for us, then some drainage gravel, and by the time moving the dirt and gravel it was 5:30 and past time to knock off work. We promised her we’d go back tomorrow morning for a few hours to finish the last remaining plantings.
Unfortunately, Rev. Josie’s food pantry had so many volunteers that they only had three hours of work for our other crew. They came back here and basically had nothing to do, which was disheartening. We’re going to have a meeting tonight to see if we can figure out a way to become more effective.