Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012
Nearly 200 volunteers from across the country contributed over 450 hours to help preserve the treasures of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in a special work program July 19-21. The volunteers were part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and its 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, Louisiana. The gathering brought 33,000 people to the city for events designed to encourage youth to practice discipleship, peacemaking, and justice; volunteers worked at projects throughout the New Orleans area. A special photo gallery of the ELCA contributions to Jean Lafitte is at the park website www.nps.gov/jela.
Work at Jean Lafitte’s three New Orleans-area sites and at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park included: • Cleaning more than 500 headstones at Chalmette National Cemetery • Documenting information from over 2,700 headstones at Chalmette National Cemetery • Moving 15,000-plus Memorial Day flags to permanent storage • Laying conduit at park headquarters in preparation for new fiber optic cable, which will allow more efficient communications and computer networking • Assisting the park curator with wrapping and rehousing artifacts and checking accession files • Organizing the park headquarters “attic,” including the excess uniforms cache • Cleaning, polishing, and inventorying living history equipment and period dress • Prepping supplies for black powder program demonstrations at Chalmette Battlefield • Assisting with summer camp and a public performance at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Plans had called for another 200 volunteers to do additional work at Chalmette National Cemetery and to remove invasive plants at the Barataria Preserve, but storms, heavy rain, and resulting high water forced park staff to switch to interpretive programs instead, which met the ELCA goal of volunteers learning about south Louisiana history and ecosystems.
“Even though some of our projects were derailed by weather, a lot of work got done and staff and volunteers had a terrific time,” said Park Ranger Stephanie Click, park volunteer coordinator and ELCA liaison. “Despite downpours and thunderstorms, good planning kept everyone safe and nothing dampened our spirits!”