SJU Students Help Katrina Recovery Efforts

Winter break becomes service opportunity in Alabama, New Orleans

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (December 19, 2007) — There's little doubt that any college student would jump at the chance to visit the Gulf Coast for the winter, passing the snow-covered Northeast by for sunny beaches. But when a group of 14 Hawks – students and staff from Saint Joseph's University – fly south next month, it won't be for recreation but to help in the continued rebuilding of areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Twelve students and two members of the Campus Ministry staff will visit New Orleans and Bayou La Batre, Ala., from January 2-10 to aid in what has become a two-year recovery effort. They will visit St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in New Orleans and work in Bayou La Batre with the Bayou Recovery Project, an organization that has rebuilt more than 225 homes since Katrina. This marks the second time in three years that Saint Joseph's has organized a trip to the region in what University officials hope to make an annual immersion experience.

"It's important that the public remember the needs of people who were affected by Katrina," said Matt Fullmer, immersion programs coordinator at Saint Joseph's. "Support there has been phenomenal, but the work is far from over."

A student-made documentary entitled "New Orleans: Our Real World" premiered after the University sent fifteen of its students and staff to the city's Upper 9th Ward in January 2006. The new group will record footage for a follow-up documentary.

"Armed with old jeans, biohazard suits and masks, these students worked with residents of New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward to begin the process of salvaging their homes," Fullmer recalled of the 2006 trip. "To say I was inspired by the work and sense of purpose demonstrated by these young people is an understatement."

The experiences of those students are still archived at

Media Contact

Jeffrey Martin, Office of University Communications, 610-660-3223,

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