CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Students and Faculty Continue the Rebuild New Orleans Project

Date: 10-18-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Aaron Malatesta, student coordinator of Rebuild New Orleans

Students and faculty from the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management at California State University, Chico will travel in January 2008 to New Orleans for the third time. They will continue their efforts to help rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the devastating hurricane that struck Louisiana in August 2005. The Rebuild New Orleans Project (RNOP) team grew in size from 22 students in 2006 to 55 in 2007.

“An astounding 117 students have signed up for 2008,” said Aaron Malatesta, student coordinator of RNOP. “We need help in getting all of those people there. We still have $52,000 of an $85,000 budget to raise.”

Money is needed to pay for airline tickets, room and board for the students, supplies, and tools to rebuild homes in New Orleans this January. The team will work with St. Bernard’s Parish and Common Grounds, both charity foundations that are deeply involved in the rebuilding of communities devastated by the catastrophic storm.

During the first two visits, RNOP worked on 20 houses. “The team’s construction efficiency continues to improve,” said Malatesta. “So, we know that, given we are more experienced and skilled and that we have doubled the number of people, we will be able to work on many more houses.”

Efforts to raise funds for this demanding project have already begun, said Malatesta. In the past several weeks, the team has organized a fund-raising table selling Mardi Gras beads at the Thursday Night Market, held a yard sale, and sent hundreds of letters to possible corporate and individual sponsors.

The team will have its first media interaction of the year this Saturday, 9–11 a.m., on Paul O’Rourke-Babb’s radio show “The Point Is” on KZFR 90.1. O’Rourke-Babb will discuss the devastation of the New Orleans area, the efforts to rebuild and the future of the Gulf Coast.

“The RNOP efforts to rebuild New Orleans have been recognized not only by CSU, Chico president Paul Zingg and United States congressman Wally Herger, but by the community members of New Orleans,” said Malatesta. “What all of the volunteers have in common, beyond their building skills, is their desire to help rebuild the lives of their fellow Americans.”

If you would like to donate to the project or look at the many fund-raising events that are planned, please visit the team’s Web site or call Terry Battle, 530-898-4898, advisor to the project. For more information, contact Aaron Malatesta at 925-286-3190 or e-mail him at csuchico.rnop@gmail.com.