Operation Southern Comfort: Central New York Students Volunteer Over Spring Break

Submitted by Mike Drahos and Mike DayOperation Southern Comfort

(Morrisviie, Eaton, Hamilon, NY – April 2013) From April 6 through 14, 24 students from Hamilton Central and Morrisville-Eaton will spend the week in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish Louisiana helping rebuild homes and restore the landscape.

They will be part of Operation Southern Comfort’s 48th trip to assist areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina seven-and-a-half years ago (Aug. 29, 2005). The students will be divided into “van families” consisting of two adults and four students and will work on a number of separate projects during the week.

The trip is organized by Operation Southern Comfort (operationsoutherncomfort.org) of Liverpool.

Traveling from Hamilton are Ignas Bakanauskas, Coral Dennis, Sarah Foster, Clara Jones, Emeline Jones, Madeleine Lemal-Brown, Calvin Lucey-McCabe, Halley McArn, Sebastian Pendleton-Witherspoon, Sabrina Rebuck, and Charles Campbell-Decock. Adults supervising this trip are Hamilton French teacher Michael Day and Hamilton school psychologist Jennifer Reed. This is the first trip to New Orleans for the Hamilton group. Helping supervise the Hamilton contingent will be Frank Pudney from Sherburne (third trip).

Three Morrisville-Eaton students are going for a second time: Alex Clark, Brook Warner and Sara Collier.

Others traveling for the first time are Brooke Brown, Shelby Brown, Dan Hilts, Matthew Roher, Nick Krause, Brandon Episcopo, Walter Stokes, Joe Popino, Alex Clark, Carrie Eastman, and Natalee Raymond. The adults supervising this group will be Superintendent Michael Drahos (10th trip), Business/Home & Careers Teacher Sue Yancey (second trip), Teacher Aide/Parent Deb Raymond, and Parents Marion Brown and Walter Stokes Jr., and volunteer Raymond Mosher from Syracuse (second trip).

Volunteers will travel the 1,400 miles by vans, sleeping on a church floor in Bristol, Va., at the mid-way point. During the week, they will stay at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Chalmette, La. Each morning they will be up by 6:30 a.m. and then at several work sites by 8 a.m.

The week will also include an opportunity to work on an environmental project with the students from the high school in Chalmette. One evening will also provide an opportunity to visit the French Quarter of New Orleans.

As mentioned, this trip is the 48th for Operation Southern Comfort. More than 2,000 Central New York volunteers have helped in this effort. The entire week tends to be a transformational experience for many of these volunteers.

The families helped are unbelievably thankful and generous. It is testament to their courage having endured true hardship approaching eight years. In the end, the old adage that it is better to give than receive is always uniformly endorsed by both student and adult.

For more information, email mdrahos@m-ecs.org or mday@hamiltoncentral.org.

Mike Drahos and Mike Day are Operation Southern Comfort volunteer organizers.

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