This week marked the 10th anniversary of our NCAS/ DeVos Sport Business Management Hope for Stanley service trips in the post Hurricane Katrina era. Over these 10 years, we have taken 50 service trips to in support of community efforts to continuously rebuild homes for families. Due to the “unnamed storm” that took place in Baton Rouge in August, we knew we could not leave Louisiana without helping those in need in the community affected. Devastatingly, Baton Rouge received approximately seven trillion gallons of water with three days of rainfall. There were about 75,000 homes and families affected by this tragedy which established volunteering in the area as a top priority.

My wife, Ann Pasnak and I gave the students a tour of the Lower 9th Ward. We saw that there has been much progression. However, after 11 years, it is still disheartening to see the empty lots and broken homes that families have not been able to return to. Next, the students met our dear friend, a hero, and survivor of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Robert Green. Mr. Green told his powerful but inspiring story to the students while giving us a visual display as if we were there in 2005. During the tour, initially we planned to simply visit the new charter high school in the Lower 9th Ward but the visit became much more. The DeVos students and the Martin L. King Jr. High School students bonded and discussed future goals. The most unexpected things are often the best.

Next we began to fulfill our purpose of rebuilding homes with SBP, a disaster recovery organization. We have been working with SBP for over 7 years to help families. SBP is an outstanding organization which has been recently nominated for CNN Hero of the Decade Award and had already won the CNN Hero of the Year Award. For more information about SBP please fell free to visit their website: http://sbpusa.org/

This 50th trip has been amazing and I am truly impressed and moved by the DeVos 18 Cohort’s (D-18) hard work and passion to assist others. Additionally, we were joined by D17 Cohort members Dawon Baker and Jamaal May, NCAS staff JP Capote and DeVos Alumni Kim Francois (Class of 2008), Lavera Morris (2011), and Taunita Stephenson (2012). The NCAS’ own Suzi Katz coordinated all the details of the entire trip.

A highlight of the trip was our visit with Stanley Stewart, the person who is the inspiration of Hope for Stanley. Everything we have witnessed, the heartfelt words our students have shared and the earnest and dedicated work we have done are a testament to why we believe it is so important to continue serving others. Hope for Stanley has always been about helping the homeowners and residents believe in what they cannot see. In turn, their unwavering optimism and resilience, give us all faith to believe in what we sometimes cannot see.

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