New Orleans, LA -- YRNO


Site Leaders

Lauren Blanchetti

Katherine Zain

Type of Service


Site Partner(s)

Youth Rebuilding New Orleans (YRNO)



Departure Date


Return Date






Site Leader Description #1

Lauren is a third year from Richmond, VA studying Biology and Spanish, and she is beyond pumped to lead this year’s YRNO trip to NOLA! Outside of class, you might find her with her InterVarsity small group, chatting with patients at the UVA hospital, or grabbing lunch with a pal. And despite sometimes living in the basement of Clark library (when it's open – RIP), Lauren actually loves being outdoors and is always up for a run, hike, or bike ride with friends. She also loves trying new foods, attempting (usually unsuccessfully) to cook them, and learning about different groups and types of people. Lauren went on an ASB trip to San Juan, TX last year where she saw the integral role affordable housing plays in creating a thriving, sustainable community. She was inspired to lead a housing trip of her own and could not be more excited to continue that work while exploring the rich heritage of New Orleans and having a blast with this year’s trip!

Site Leader Description #2

Katherine is a third year double-majoring in Public Policy and Leadership and Sociology. She hails from Alexandria, VA, but tries to avoid saying “NOVA” at all costs. You can usually find her catching up with a friend over a chai tea latte at Grit, cheering on the Hoos at JPJ or driving down Blue Ridge Parkway, enjoying the views. Always down to rewatch the Office, she will also quote just about any Will Ferrell movie with you. She loves hiking and National Parks, whether it’s Humpback or exploring Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. On grounds, you can find her running weekly student dinners for Catholic Hoos (pre-COVID rip), working an Honor case and helping out with ASB exec. Katherine went on an ASB trip to Austin, TX her first year and ASB New Orleans YRNO her second year. While foreign policy is her main jam, she is also passionate about issues of housing and food insecurity and looking forward to exploring these topics more with her team on the trip.

After bonding last year over KD house dinners and their shared love of service, Lauren and Katherine were inspired to lead this trip together and are HYPE to share NOLA with all of you!


Trip Logistics

On Saturday morning we will be leaving Charlottesville and driving straight to New Orleans. Woohoo 14 hour drive! Don’t worry though, there will be pit stops for snacks and stretching and our killer group Spotify playlist will help the drive fly by. We will be staying at the YRNO bunkhouse as a group during our trip. On the weekdays, we will be volunteering on the build site from 9 am - 3 pm and on the weekends and evenings, we’ll explore New Orleans, take in the sights and enjoy tasty Cajun cuisine. We will be leaving NOLA the following Saturday morning and be back in Charlottesville by Saturday evening.

Participant Requirements

While there are no specific requirements for this trip, participants should be enthusiastic about improving communities, excited about connecting with the team, and ready to get their hands dirty. Most of our work will involve building and improving homes, but participants need only a good attitude, a willingness to help however they can, and lots of energy! The awesome team at YRNO will help guide us in all of the work on the build site, so no previous experience with housing is necessary!

Service Activities

We will be volunteering with YRNO (Youth Rebuilding New Orleans) all week. YRNO rebuilds and repairs homes that were damaged or destroyed as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Our work with YRNO could include painting, caulking or even demolition. We will also tour the Lower Ninth Ward in an effort to learn more about the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the housing affordability crisis in New Orleans.

Recreational Activities

New Orleans is a city rich in history and culture and we are so excited to experience it with you all! We will finish with YRNO in the afternoons and so plan to spend time in the evenings exploring the city, especially the French Quarter and Jackson Square. We’ll snag beignets from Cafe du Monde, take a stroll around Louis Armstrong Park, and hopefully get to JAM to some real New Orleans jazz. We will likely have some planned activities (like visiting the Presbytere Museum) but will also have some flexibility, so get ready to have lots of input in where we go as well!!

Community/Area Background

Well-known for its music, food, and festivals, New Orleans is also known for the devastation it endured as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Having always been susceptible to flooding due to its low elevation and proximity to water, the city weathered particular damage from the Category 5 storm because of fatal engineering flaws in the levees meant to protect it. When the levees broke, nearly eighty percent of the New Orleans area was left underwater, destroying over 200,000 homes and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. And while much work has been done to repair the city, rebuilding remains a work in progress, especially for low-income communities, like the Lower Ninth Ward, that received less relief and still feel the effects of the storm, even fifteen years later. Youth Rebuilding New Orleans began in 2005 as a small-scale effort identifying homes in need of repair and sending volunteers to help. Since then, it has grown not only in impact but in its focus on revitalization of the entire community through rebuilding homes, supporting local educational systems, and empowering youth.