Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday in NOLA

It definitely felt like hump day this morning. Exhaustion was really finally settling in for all of us, from a lot of hard work the past couple of days, lots of hot sun, and late nights exploring the Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. We went through our usual routine: wake up, dress, eat, make lunch, and then meeting where assignments are handed out. For the past two days we had been working on primarily painting jobs on a couple of different houses in the city. There had been mention of maybe getting to work at a local animal shelter, but that was a hot commodity in terms of assignment and we had more people in our group than they needed, so it didn't seem likely that we would be getting it. Thanks to some quick thinking, the hand-raising ability of a ninja, and two great people in our group, the rest of us were able to spend the day with the cats and dogs (and one baby possum) at ARNO.

This almost literally a dream come true! I have a deep love and passion for animals, especially dogs and I was being given the opportunity to do one of the things that I loved most. It was not all fun and games at the shelter though. We had some serious responsibility to these animals that had been abandoned, beaten, starved, or even had the misfortune of never experiences a home or love. Daily, ARNO has volunteers, both local and otherwise, come to clean kennels, feed the animals, walk dogs, and much much more. It was a lot of hard work with some really great perks. I had the chance to interact with a ton of cats, which is not something that I have really ever gotten a chance to do, walk Leona, Mary Jo, and Sydney, and play with a couple of others along the way including Benjamin and Buttons. One of the reasons that this organization is so important is because it takes in displaced animals who are often not treated the ways that they should. As the result of hurricane Katrina and just life in general, hundreds of animals in New Orleans don't have a place to call home. While the area still struggles greatly with homelessness and devastation ten years after the storm, there are even more aspects to the relief that must be accomplished to make this city whole again and ARNO helping to make that happen.

After a day of connecting with some many great animals and people, NOLA catalyst participants had the great pleasure of connecting with some equally great individuals. Hamline alumni Tony Wilson, along with several of his local friends and poets, put together a great slam poetry show for us. We had the fortune of hearing more about issues of race, feminism, education, and much more from these performers, further influencing and inspiring all of our needs to spread our message through the Hamline and surrounding communities.

Now, still covered in two day old paint, fresh sunburns, and a brain full of questions, I head to bed!


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