Letter from Associate Dean

Shawny Anderson, the associate Dean, writes an open letter.


As you may already know, over the last two and a half years student relief workers from Saint Mary’s College of California have traveled to New Orleans six times to complete more than 10,000 hours of manual labor in support of hurricane relief.  Two of those trips, in January 2006 and 2007, involved three-week stays where students lived and traveled in a sleeper bus, making them a completely self-sufficient mobile relief team. Two more trips occurred over the students’ Easter Breaks, and two others involved smaller groups of students doing either advance work or follow-up work for the other larger trips. 

Over the years students have participated in every level of hurricane relief: they gutted houses, churches and schools while helping to salvage items of interest that had survived the storms; they restored parks and public spaces, including participating in soil testing and environmentally-friendly planning practices; they restored homes that were not completely destroyed in the storms and assisted in new construction throughout the storm-afflicted regions of the Ninth Ward and New Orleans East.

Throughout their time in the Gulf Coast, students also documented their experiences and their perspectives on the lives of the people they met.  They maintained a daily weblog that helped people across the country gain insight into the continuing crisis, they prepared multimedia presentations that were posted to the web, and they continue to do public presentations throughout the Bay Area to raise consciousness about the ongoing problems faced by Gulf Coast residents. 

It is clear to all of us who have journeyed again and again to the Gulf Coast that volunteers are the greatest source of hope and strength for everyone who continues to struggle there.  Therefore, we have decided to return to New Orleans this January to extend our work.  Thirteen veterans of past trips will be joined by sixteen newcomers as we work for Habitat for Humanity, Parkway Partners, and individuals we’ve met over the last two years who still need our help. 

OUR NEED: Because of our desire to continue our work as a self-contained unit, the cost per student is approximately $1600 for the month of January.  Students have each paid an $800 deposit at this point and we hope to raise funds to cover the balance of our costs.  Thus, we must raise $20,000 between now and Thanksgiving to assure that we can meet our budget.  We hope that you will consider making a donation. 

Support a Student Relief Worker.  To make a contribution to support our work, make checks payable to: “SMC-New Orleans-Jan Term” and send them to:  Shawny Anderson, Associate Dean, Liberal Arts, Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94575.  Online donations may be made at: DONATION LINK HERE.  For more information, contact me at sanderso@stmarys-ca.edu, or at 925-631-4468.  Thank you for your interest and for any support you can offer.



Shawny Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Liberal Arts