HKS Alumna Leads Student Volunteers in New Orleans During Spring Break

April 2, 2008
by Sarah Abrams

New Orleans, LA – Spring break is often a time to catch up on schoolwork or missed sleep, but for some Harvard students, spring break 2008 was an opportunity to paint and pound nails.

Led by alumna Ellen Connorton (MPA 2002), students from Harvard Kennedy School, the School of Public Health, and Harvard Extension School spent the week helping the hurricane-ravished city of New Orleans get back on its feet. During spring and winter breaks for the past three years, Connorton has mobilized students to sustain rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The trips serve multiple purposes,” says Connorton. “First, to help with the recovery effort. Second, to bear witness to what happened due to the storm and what hasn’t happened since, and to go home as advocates for the region's recovery. Finally, for the fellowship—to share the experience with each other, and with those we meet while volunteering.”

This past week, student volunteers cleared lots and planted gardens along roadsides, painted at elementary schools, and helped repair and restore houses damaged by hurricane winds and flooding.

The 17 students volunteered through the nonprofit Hands On Network, a network of volunteers and projects taking place across the country.

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Image of Kennedy School student planting flowers in New Orleans

Emily Stanger MPA/ID 2008 weeds and plants along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard as part of a roadside beautification project in New Orlean's Central City area.

Image of Kennedy School alumna and student volunteering in New Orleans

Ellen Connorton MPA 2002 and Janice Kim MPH 2009 in front of house in New Orleans' Central City area severely damaged by wind and rain.