Wes and Jill Hirsch have been part of Legacy Voyages since its inception. After the New Orleans trip, they offered the following trip recap about their experience.
Outside of a typical vacation, we never really had a PURPOSE to go to the Big Easy, until a couple of weeks ago. The purpose of our trip was to meet with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) and determine how our partnership could further their work in the city of New Orleans.
The weekend started sitting on the levee at Algier’s Point, waiting on a shrimp po’ boy while listening to Shawn share the history of the area, wondering what he had in store for us this weekend. At this point, we had not a clue. The first stop for the trip involved some fun at Escape My Room on Constance Street. Eight people locked in a room no bigger than a bathroom, tasked with countless puzzles in order to escape. With six minutes left and some good luck, we did it…together. At that point, the exercise seemed to be for the sole purpose of claiming bragging rights and having a little fun. Later, we realized that this time of camaraderie and cooperation is symbolic of the fact that any random group of people can solve whatever challenge is placed before them with a little teamwork.
Fast forward to Saturday, when we had the privilege of meeting Steve and Bronwen from YWAM of New Orleans. As they spoke with us, we learned about the creation of their ministry. With its mission to identify community needs and provide the resources for other groups to serve in the community, YWAM has made a lasting impact for decades within New Orleans. Groups from across the United States and other parts of the world who give so unselfishly of their time and energy stay at one of any number of the YWAM properties.
So what in the world could we do to help make a lasting impact on this already successful organization? We realized that, sometimes, making an impact and changing lives doesn’t always have the be the ultimate solution to the overall goal. Sometimes, simply being a small piece of the puzzle provides the means for larger solutions to take place, much like all the small puzzles we solved in that escape room were all part of a larger goal. In terms of our partnership with YWAM, our small piece of the puzzle—our giving opportunity–was providing funding for the addition of bathrooms.
BATHROOMS?! How does one leave a legacy with bathrooms? Well, the YWAM properties at which volunteer groups stay have the typical number of bathrooms in any house—two or three at most. However, the houses have been modified to hold 35-50 volunteers at one time. It is reasonable to think that, after a long, hard day of work giving to the community, it would be difficult to relax and enjoy fellowship if the volunteers spent each evening trying to divide time among a couple of showers. After all, comfortable volunteers become willing, RETURNING volunteers, and it is in this small way that we play a role in furthering the spread of positivity in this community.
New Orleans has a unique and exciting culture, and this is not just considering its historic role in the growth of America. We visited the Arts District in the Bywater neighborhood is home to the Studio BE Gallery, which showcases the powerful, thought-provoking works of local artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums, as well as the Music Box Village, where you can listen as interactive “musical houses” come alive in harmony. The beautiful Sculpture Garden inside the New Orleans City Park is a lovely, relaxing place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. And then there is the French Quarter, with its wild and eclectic mix of culture, color, and sound. Of course, it goes without saying that all of this comes with some of the best food in the nation. (Special thanks to Chef Ed Moise who served up an amazing five-course meal at their lovely bed and breakfast!) As we enjoyed all that New Orleans had to offer, we wondered how all this came to be, and how many people and organizations worked together to contribute to the longevity of this amazing city through the simple acts of giving. We realized that everyone has a vital role to play, and even the smallest contributions—like building bathrooms—can have a profound effect for generations to come.