St. Charles Borromeo KIDS are helping to rebuild New Orleans

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Destrehan hosted a week long work camp June 3 through June 9 where teen volunteers from St. Charles Parish and all over the country gathered in teams to gut homes and clean yards in stormed damaged areas in Orleans Parish.Operation Helping Hands is a program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans by Catholic HEART Workcamp, a national organization in Goldenrod, Florida.

“The organization’s goal is to utilize teen workers to help the neediest communities all across the United States,” Janeen Rodrigue, youth director for St. Borromeo Catholic Church told the Herald-Guide.

“Camp HEART stands for (Help Everyone Attain Repairs Today) and the organization put our local teens to work to help restore homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” she said.

There are 9,100 teen volunteers taking part in various community service projects during the summer months beginning June 3 and ending July 28.

“As the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina quickly approaches, many of our elderly residents have not yet been able to return home,” Lisa Trigo, homeowner advocate and program coordinator told the Herald-Guide.

“Only with programs like Operation Helping Hands and others like it will their dream to go home become a reality,” she continued.

“The program started in November of 2005 assisting elderly and disabled homeowners with gutting their homes,” she said.

“Through the assistance of more than 11,000 groups of teen volunteers from around the world, we have been able to gut over 1,800 homes.”

St. Charles Borromeo’s Fountain of Youth teen workers couldn’t wait to take part in the rebuilding effort.

“Even though I live 20 minutes from New Orleans, I hadn’t seen the storm damaged homes and I was surprised at how bad things are still after all this time,” Lucas Roussel, teen volunteer, and Destrehan High School student told the Herald-Guide.

“It’s amazing to see how grateful the people are to have some assistance getting their homes and yards cleaned after an awful storm like Katrina.”

Trigo said that Orleans Parish officials are issuing $100 fines daily to homeowners living in the storm damaged areas that aren’t keeping their property clean.

“Some of these residents are elderly and don’t have the means to do this on their own so we feel thankful that we can do our part to assist them,” she said.

Trigo said as the need for gutting homes diminishes, the organization is now moving into the rebuilding phase of our program.

“With this shift brings a need for more skilled volunteers,” she said.

“The program is in need of semi-skilled volunteers who can assist with sheet rocking, painting, carpentry, installing insulation, floor installation, and electrical, and plumbing,” she continued.

“Even though at this time our greatest need is for skilled workers, we will still utilize unskilled volunteers to help paint, landscape, and clean up. Whether you have one day, one week, or one month to volunteer, a homeowner from the storm will benefit form your time and talent.”

The program is currently seeking energetic high school and college graduates up to age 30 to participate in our newly formed Volunteer Corps.

“If you are willing to make a three month, six month or one year commitment to the program please contact Jonathan McGee at or call (540) 821-7230,” Trigo said.

To make donations, to the organization please send them, to Operation Helping Hands, 1050 S. Jeff Davis Pkwy. Suite 212 New Orleans, LA 70125 or please visit the web site:

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