Students from all over the country volunteer with NOAHH every year. Often times, they find themselves working alongside each other, forming new friendships as they build homes. Few of them, however, form such a powerful connection with each other that they come back every year. A few years after Hurricane Katrina, students from Indiana were on a service trip where they met students from Massachusetts and New York. They quickly became friends, and even spent some of their time traveling home together. The following year, they coordinated a return trip together.
Over the years, new people have joined and some have had to take a break from the trips, but Team Pope–a name they took from a local spot they love–has made a trip to New Orleans every year since 2007. It was in their second year that Marc “The Captain” Holloway joined.
“I said I don’t like to travel, I don’t like meeting new people, I don’t like hard work,” the Captain said. “But I went ahead and did it. It was a great time and a great group.”
Despite the difficulties of coordinating people across the Midwest and East Coast, they come back each year. According to the Captain, it’s both a chance to see old friends and to visit the city they’ve grown to love.
“The friends. The area,” the Captain said. “Every once in a while, people float the idea of going somewhere else. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen.”
As the years have gone by, they’ve seen many changes in the area. From staying at Camp Hope in the early days to finding hostels to stay in, from seeing neighborhoods change, and from seeing signs of life return to the city, they’ve seen the city progress. They remain invested in the recovery of New Orleans and the people here.
“The second or third year here, I was excited because the Walmart had opened in Chalmette,” he said. “All I could think was that was probably 100 people that are employed there.”