HeART This City New Orleans: Take Two


by Stacy Stone

What a great day for a service project in the Crescent City! Bad weather forced us to reschedule the project earlier this month, so we were ecstatic to be back in New Orleans, this time with sunshine and clear blue skies. The weather was a great indicator of how we’d feel by the end of the day, with yet another fantastic project completed! Upon driving into the project site we finally saw the beautiful New Orleans edition of the “HeART This City” mural by street artist Totem. The mural perfectly captures NOLA’a spirit and energy, with themes very familiar to local residents and eye-catching, vibrant colors.

SCA volunteers gathered before Totem’s “HeART this City” NOLA mural.

In New Orleans we were lucky enough to team up with not one but two long-time SCA partners—ASB HeART this City sponsor American Eagle Outfitters, plus, our special hosts for this event, the National Park Service. We brought over 50 volunteers into Jean LaFitte National Historic Park for the day to give the headstones at Chalmette National Cemetery a much needed makeover. Established in 1864, the Cemetery and neighboring Chalmette National Battlefield are located on the site of the Battle of New Orleans. Under the shade of gigantic live oaks, there are now over 16,000 headstones belonging to veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, and the War of 1812.  

Scrubbin’ away!

Prior to Saturday, Chalmette’s headstones had not been cleaned since before Hurricane Katrina, leaving many almost illegible. Our volunteers pitched in to revitalize the cemetery by spraying headstones with water and a biodegradable cleanser, then using some serious muscle to scrub away the grime. It was incredible to watch years of accumulated dirt wash away with the effort of local students. The work wasn’t easy, but with great volunteers from Tulane University, Academy of the Sacred Heart, and local nonprofit Crescent City Connections we had a great time, and made an oh-so-satisfying impact.

The difference was so striking!

The sense of service amongst the student volunteers was so inspiring. It was also fun, as usual, to see how excited everyone was to don their super cool American Eagle/SCA “HeART this City” T-shirt. They’ve been a hit in every city we’ve served! For most of our volunteers this was their first experience with SCA, and we loved the opportunity to let New Orleans know what we’re all about. After Saturday, we might have the beginnings of a whole new generation of conservation leaders in the Crescent City!

Clockwise: New Orleans Earthsavers, Ella, Gary, & Sofia.

After two trips, the HeART This City team has become pretty attached to the Big Easy, so it was hard to say goodbye! We will miss this wonderful city’s unique brand of hospitality, which shone brightly in local representatives of the National Park Service, who volunteered their Saturdays to make this project such a success. Thank you all for your hard work, you made us HeART This City just as much as you do!