Ten members of Kutztown University’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity spent their spring break helping others.

The students traveled to New Orleans earlier this month to volunteer their time for the St. Bernard Project

They were assigned to work on the exterior of homes in the lower 9th ward, where they replaced rotting wood and sanded, primed and painted the homes.

"It was very surreal seeing where the devastation came and how much destruction resulted in the levies breaking," said Nathan Schwartz, a freshman at KU.

"The trip was an incredibly moving experience simply because so many houses were still uninhabitable," said Michael Rile, president of KU's SAE chapter. "After seeing this, we understood that our efforts were making a difference for someone and their family."

The students who made the trip included:

  • Matthew Frizalone, Old Bridge, N.J.
  • Darius Pleasant, Feasterville, Bucks Co. 
  • Mark Regan, Eatontown, N.J.
  • Michael Rile, Whitehall Twp., Lehigh Co.
  • Tom Romanchick, Nesquehoning, Carbon Co.
  • Nathan Schwartz, Richboro, Bucks Co.
  • Lee Shehadeh, Lehighton, Carbon Co. 
  • Phillip Smith, Red Lion, York Co.
  • Tommy Tann, Philadelphia

Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans when the storm's surge breached dozens of levees around the region, destroying or badly damaging many of the city's homes.

The St. Bernard Project was started in 2006 by Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg, a teacher and lawyer, respectively, from Washington, D.C., after they saw the tremendous needs, yet solvable problems, in the New Orleans region.

In the fall of 2012, seven members of Kutztown's SAE fraternity traveled to Brick, N.J., to help out a brother whose town was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.