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Posted: 4/23/2008

Thirteen students from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing are heading to New Orleans during Spring Break to volunteer their time to help the community. All will be working in the Lower Ninth Ward, an area of New Orleans badly damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

The students, who banded together as Team NOLA (New Orleans, LA), are working eight days with Lowernine.org, a non-profit organization committed to training residents and volunteers to rebuild the Ward. Lowernine.org is providing food and lodging for the students in New Orleans.

"I [think] we should not only feel concerned about their enormous losses but also take initiative in offering aid," said Sarah Balensiefer, Accelerated 08. "There is an amazingly passionate, community-oriented, ambitious collection of 'change-makers' here at [Hopkins]. Team NOLA is just one of many groups that chose to take action."

Although the student nurses will devote most of their efforts to residential rebuilding, they also will work with nurses to conduct outreach screenings and assist residents who still have limited access to health care. The Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumni Association and School of Nursing Student Government Association have donated funds for the New Orleans trip, and Team NOLA has solicited medical and building supplies to take with them. The group has also raised more than $900 through a bake sale and Cajun-style lunch the students prepared.

"Since hurricane Katrina in 2005, so many have gone [to New Orleans] to provide their service to those affected.  I am glad to be able to provide relief for the workers and outreach to those affected," said Erin Heximer, accelerated 08 class vice president. "However small and short our contribution, I hope we are able to give back some of our incredible blessings and make a real difference in the New Orleans Lower Nine!"