Throughout March, Rebuilding Together New Orleans (RTNO) will put hundreds of college students to work as they travel to New Orleans during their spring breaks. With over 500 students volunteering in March, RTNO will repair the homes of more than two dozen New Orleanians. The work consists of anything from scraping and painting, installing flooring, building wheelchair ramps, and deconstructing houses slated for demolition.

Every March since 2005, thousands of college students from around the nation have come to New Orleans in order to participate in “Alternative Spring Breaks,” combining a fun vacation with social activism. Even now, three and a half years after Hurricane Katrina, nonprofits throughout the region are booked to capacity with eager young students hoping to make a difference over their spring break. “There has been an overwhelming demand for volunteer opportunities in New Orleans in the month of March,” said Camille Lopez, Assistant Director of RTNO, “By November 2008, all of our spots had been filled up. That says so much about the spirit of civic engagement in the younger generation.” Universities working with RTNO include UVA, St. John’s, Wake Forest, Penn St., Goucher, Fitchburg State, Washington University in St. Louis, and many more.

“It feels great to know that you have made someone’s life a little easier,” said Carly Glickstein, a sophomore at Arizona State University, as she worked with her fellow students to build a wheelchair ramp in the Holy Cross neighborhood. “My time in New Orleans helps me to live a better life when I go back home. It’s all about paying it forward!”

Rebuilding Together New Orleans is a local affiliate of Rebuilding Together which has restored and revitalized more than 100,000 homes over the past 20 years. Utilizing volunteer labor, Rebuilding Together allows low-income families in communities across the country to live in comfort, safety, and dignity. For more information, visit

Rebuilding Together New Orleans is a program of the Preservation Resource Center, an organization devoted to promoting the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods.