New Orleans
NOLA 2011 - Last Day Update  E-mail

On our way home, and a few of us have that same funny feeling we get at the end of the trip each year. The week goes by in a blur—working really hard all day, relaxing and seeing the city in the evening, rinse and repeat. By the end, you realize how comfortable the routine got in such a short time, and you realize that your regular life waits back home (papers to grade!).

We’ll miss this city once again.

Under the house, the floors came together nicely. A total of 10 new floor joists and two brand new 6x6 support posts took the floor of two rooms from a trampoline to a place solid enough to bring in a trampoline and hold a gymnastics meet.




Trust these joists...

Jump-testing our floors...

Unfortunately, as we were installing one of the 14 foot joists, we bumped into a water line in the cramped space under the house. Normally not a bit deal. But this house is anything but normal. The slight bump caused an already badly installed fitting to spring a leak. Uncertain if we’d have time to really fix it with a new fitting, step one was to scrape off the plumbers putty (a bad idea from the past) and try some plumbers epoxy. That slowed the leak, but didn’t stop it.

Luckily, we finished with the floor joists on a long Thursday, and we were able to spare a worker to crawl back under on Friday to do that job right. The new union is tight, no leak, and we’re happy.


Bad...


Better...


Best.

SEAFOOD BREAK!!!

Outside…well, the whole place looks different. The porch roof was originally held up by two matching columns, but one was knocked out in the storm, so an old 4x4 was in its place, holding up half the roof. So Joe took it upon himself to recreate the original post, decorative elements and all, which made a huge difference in the curb appearance of the place.


The existing column.


Joe's replica.

The painting finished up at the end of the day Friday, and the house no longer looks abandoned. Ella and Henry have had problems with vandals and looters over the years, and we suspect part of the problem is that the house looked abandoned. In fact, while our crew was on site working, a young guy came by looking for something he had left on the premises….his ‘work’. He had to get his ‘work’ now that he saw we were fixing the place up. Our crew didn’t know what to make of the situation, until the guy reached under the foundation of the house and removed his 9mm pistol from where he’s hidden it, tucked it in his belt, and walked away.

Our thinking is that things like that will no longer happen now that the house looks lived in. There’s an abandoned house right next door, a much more tempting target for someone looking to stash his ‘work’.


Before...


After.

Ella and Henry were thrilled with the results, too. The rooms we worked on are now the two strongest floors in the house, and the exterior looks simply brilliant.

Our crew worked as hard as I’ve seen people work, and we couldn’t be prouder of them. This was our first year working without the safety net of a supervising organization like Pnola. We planned the projects, funded them (and fell a bit short, but that’s what future fundraising is for), did the work, dealt with the snags along the way, and got a lot done. The added worry of not have anyone else being responsible for the job was balanced out by the added pride of our own accomplishments. We leave New Orleans exhausted and sad to leave, but happy to have come once again.

 
NOLA 2011 - Day 3 Update  E-mail

NOLA 2011 - Day 3 Update

It's been a whirlwind of a couple of days. Work progresses on prepping the pantry for painting, and in fact we've secured a couple of paint sprayers for Thursday which should make the work go a lot quicker than rolling. It's been a lot of work, a lot of monotonous power tool use, but our crew is fantastic, and they've gotten things done quickly and well.

Under the house things are going well too. We added four floor joists to the first of two rooms, and a new central post to help support the weight of all that canned food on pallets above. The floor now feels like a solid floor, not a wooden trampoline.

We're moving to the second of the two rooms we plan on tackling, and...well, in addition to adding four new floor joists, we also have to replace to joists entirely. The two joists are rotten. I mean, I could literally have punched my fist through one of these joists. Someone after the storms had tried to help by adding a sister...a couple of 2x6's bolted to the rotting joists...and not attached to anything else. 2x6s are not structural elements for a floor. We quarantined that room until Kevin and Nii could add a brand new joist (see pictures below). So 5 more joists in that room, and a new central support pillar are on the list for tomorrow.

We are working hard, and getting a lot done, and we couldn't be happier. Bishop Ella and Henry are over the moon with the work that we're getting done, so thanks once again to everyone who made it possible.


Washing the remnants of all the sanding off...


Everything is going great under the floors...


And everyone wants to join in the fun...


Powder-actuated nailing...FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!
(


The new support pillar...solid!


Do not trust this joist...

 
Nola 2011 - Day 1 Update  E-mail

NOLA 2011, Day 1 Update

 

Hi all, just a quick word before heading out to find dinner. We got safely to town late Saturday, spent some time getting our feet back underneath us and getting together with Bishop Ella on Sunday, and then got down to work today.

Our two main projects at the food pantry: repainting whole house, and shoring up the floors.

The scraping and stripping for the painting is going swimmingly, thanks to tools from the Hands On New Orleans Tool Lending Library. Great resource, great people. The floor...well, that's going to be fun. Details for those who know about such things: the floor joists are 24" on center, across a 14' span...with hundreds of pounds of canned food on pallets stacked on top. So there will be joists added. There was also a serious weak spot...turns out that was right over the heater that was under the floor...so there was a hole about 2 feet by 4 feet, covered only by 1/2 in plywood. We instructed no one to walk on that the moment we came in the door.

Have to run, but here are some quick pics from the day.

 
NOLA 2011  E-mail

March 13th - 19th, 2011

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

We do.

Gamers for Humanity is happy to announce our 4th annual New Orleans Work Trip, Sunday March 13th through Saturday March 19th, 2011. Come along for the ride as we work to help lift up a city that man and nature has tried to lay low any number of times. Come meet the wonderful people who make New Orleans a joy to first visit, and a must to return to. New Orleans is more than just Mardi Gras, more than what you've seen on TV. New Orleans is music and hospitality and relaxation and neighborhoods and caring and struggling and welcoming, it's tourists and warm weather, it's also hurricanes and flooding and oil spills.

New Orleans and its people need your help. We could use your help. And you'll likely learn a few things about yourself at the same time.

 

If you've never volunteered for anything like this, this is the trip for you. We take care of all the arrangements for the week (your travel to the city is the only exception). We line up all the opportunities for you to volunteer, to help and meet people: restoring flood-damaged homes, serving lunch in a soup kitchen, distributing food at a food pantry, and more. We arrange for group housing (for very good volunteer rates). All you have to do is show up and come to work.

We at Gamers for Humanity also believe that coming to serve a city or a neighborhood only makes sense if you get to know the people you are helping. Every city has needs...so why New Orleans? We encourage our volunteers to get out into the communities we work and stay in, to see the sights, listen to the music, try the food. There are any number of places where volunteers new to New Orleans can safely and cheaply enjoy what the city has to offer, and we try to fill that need as well.

You just might find yourself inspired. Each year we seem to hear at least one volunteer remark that maybe New Orleans is a place they should head for a while, spend some time volunteering while they get a change of pace. Gabe, one of our volunteers from the first trip, stayed behind after that week, and was a team leader and Americorps worker the next year with one of the volunteer organizations we work with in the city.

We have a limit of 20 volunteers for this trip, and we encourage you to contact us early, even if you're not sure yet whether you're ready to sign on. Adding your name to the list will keep you in the loop of all the relevant information, and you'll have a chance to confirm or back out when the list starts to overflow.

If you've been telling yourself "I'd love to do something like that" whenever your friends tell you about volunteer trips they've been on, or you've wanted to see New Orleans, or you've just been wanting to get out of the house/city/state for a while now...well, why not with us?

The trip can be as cheap as you'd like to make it. Housing is very cheap mens/womens dorm style hostel housing, and food can be a combination of restaurants and groceries cooked in our private kitchen in the hostel. We traditionally have a van-pool/caravan from the Midwest, and have at times had the funds to be able to assist with travel and housing costs for other volunteers as well. Single volunteers have spent as little at $300 total on this trip in the past.

If you want to make it, we want to help you.

 

Please consider joining us in New Orleans. You'll be helping a city full of wonderful people, and having fun along the way. If the trip isn't for you, I would encourage you to think about helping our volunteers with a donation to help with travel and housing funds. Most of our volunteers are just like you--they want to help, but aren't swimming in vast piles of cash.

Please contact us with any questions you might have. We sincerely look forward to hearing from you.

Tom Javoroski
President, Gamers for Humanity

 
New Orleans 2010  E-mail
March 13-20, 2010 -- This was our third year traveling to New Orleans to help with the ongoing rebuilding of the city following the devastation of hurricane's Katrina and Rita. While the city continues to recover bit by bit, the recovery is patchwork, with entire neighborhoods barely existing more than four years afterwards.

Our primary effort was once again to help The Phoenix of New Orleans, a non-profit based in the Lower-Mid City neighborhood. Pnola works with homeowners to return them to the homes they already own, helping to rebuild the neighborhood with its original residents. The homeowners provide the materials, Pnola acts as the general contractor, and organizations like ours provide the labor.
 

 

 
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