“Student Helps Katrina Victims On Summer Adventure” - Buck County Courier
With the help of team leader Ariel Wilson (left), Savannah Greco, 16, of Lower Makefield, beads a corner in a home
being built for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
When Hurricane Katrina barreled through the Gulf of Mexico with a bull’s-eye over New Orleans in the summer of 2005, Savannah Greco of Lower Makefield was about to enter kindergarten.
Fast forward to the present, when the rising Pennsbury High School junior found out that many residents of the Big Easy still don’t have it, well, easy more than a decade after the storm destroyed their homes and neighborhoods. She wanted to help them, so she looked online and found “The Road Less Traveled,” a summer camp that offers students a chance to make a difference for others in need. Savannah signed up for a two-week trip to New Orleans, and was there from June 26 to July 10. “I just looked up teen service groups.... I didn’t know anybody,” she said. “I did it just to help.”
The Chicago-based Road Less Traveled program offers a variety of travel experiences providing service learning, leadership training, adventure expeditions, language training and a global perspective to teens, said Jim Stein, director of the organization. The organization offers two trips each summer to New Orleans for those who want to help with the reconstruction after Katrina as well as experience the city’s Cajun culture. “We’ve been doing it for many years,” Stein said. “The need is still there.... It’s astounding how much need remains.”
Savannah was attracted to the trip for the chance to help others and see the city. With 14 other students and three adult leaders from around the country and South America, Savannah worked at three different projects in St. Bernard Parish, just outside of New Orleans. She saw first-hand how devastating a natural disaster can be. “There were still so many things that needed to be done. You think (because) Katrina happened 11 years ago ... that everybody is back on their feet,” Savannah said. But disaster coordinators told the group that “every day they get five to six calls from people who still need help rebuilding their houses.” She said the displaced families are still living with relatives or renting.
Savannah and the other teens helped build a home for one displaced family, trimmed trees that were planted to replace some of the 100,000 trees destroyed by the storm and helped a charter school get organized for the upcoming school year. “It was really fun. You would meet people, you would be exposed to different types of people,” she said. Savannah’s parents, Frank and Debbie Greco, were pleased with their only child’s adventurous spirit and desire to help others. “She’s a good kid,” her dad said. “She did everything on her own. They told her she did really good. Her ability to socialize — she had a big impact on the group....We’re very proud of her.”
“If she was an Olympian and won a gold medal, I’d be more proud of her doing this,” he said.
Peg Quann: 215-269-5081;
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