CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH
A senior at Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grace Heidel enjoys spending her free time volunteering at Ozanam Inn, Kingsley House and October Rebuild.
Heidel was able to attend a trip to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to work on Sprout Creek Farm with about 20 girls from around the globe. She also traveled to Omaha, Neb., to volunteer at a Head Start Center and summer day camp for people with disabilities. Last summer Heidel also served the homeless in San Francisco and volunteered in a retirement home for those of Asian descent in Seattle.
“When I return from these trips, I find my interest and passion in volunteering in New Orleans renewed,” says Heidel. “Having had the experience to volunteer in many diverse environments, I am quicker to notice a problem that I may have previously overlooked in my community.”
Last Mardi Gras, Heidel and her family hosted an exchange student from Santiago, Chile. As thanks for her generosity, Heidel was able to spend a month with her. Heidel says, “It is exciting to see that people my age are so globally minded. Students are interested in the problems and needs of both other countries and their own.”
Heidel was very excited to participate in The St. Bernard Project – a nonprofit organization focused on removing barriers for families who wish to move back into their homes post-Hurricane Katrina. She participated in The St. Bernard Project’s 50-hour rebuild in honor of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Green Light New Orleans, a post-Katrina nonprofit organization that enables low and fixed income households to switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient CFLs is another organization Heidel is involved in. The volunteers go into homes, change light bulbs and calculate the environmental impact and economic benefit that the CFLs provide for the family.
When Heidel isn’t volunteering she spends her time reading, doing ceramics and participating in her parish Catholic Youth Organization. She is also involved in Sacred Heart’s pro-life club, Spanish appreciation club, African awareness club and P.L.A.I.D – a club that focuses on stopping discrimination in the community. Heidel would like to study social work in college. After college she hopes to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or a similar program so she can serve the global community.