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Briarcliff Project Relief Works Through Mardi Gras

Project Relief, a group of about 40 people from churches in Briarcliff, Scarborough and Peekskill are sending daily dispatches from their week volunteering in New Orleans. See all the Project Relief stories .

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Westchester's Project Relief team, which was formed in part by Briarcliff locals, worked through most of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, helping rebuild local centers devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Project Relief chaperone Cory Ethridge, from Millwood, wrote about the group’s progress Tuesday:

"We worked in four groups (Monday and Tuesday) and my group had 19 members. We worked at a church in the Lower Ninth Ward, Trinity Lutheran Church, which had been destroyed in the flood. The water was 12 feet deep in that part of the city. The church had had 300-plus members before the flood, but was down to eight members before the rebuilding began. There are currently about 30 members and they plan for the church to be open for Easter Sunday. The church, once completed, will be much more than just a church, as it will house a community center, a food pantry and other community service organizations. We helped grade the courtyard, removed wood that was used to make the frame for a concrete foundation for the fencing that will surround a community garden. We dug irrigation ditches for the garden, moved lumber and bricks, and cut tile flooring for the interior."

Ethridge said the group was able to make it to the Orpheus parade later in the evening, adding “we caught a lot of beads.”

Project Relief began five years ago when local Briarcliff youths told adults from Briarcliff Congregational Church, Scarborough Presbyterian Church and Peekskill Presbyterian Church that they wanted to volunteer their time to help repair the City of New Orleans after the 2005 hurricane.

Project Relief Director Peter Clements, from Ossining, said earlier that 26 students and adult members raised about $42,000 to make the trip to spend their entire winter break from school volunteering with local New Orleans organizations to rebuild houses. Project Relief members come from all over the Westchester area, including Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Millwood, Yorktown, Peekskill and Scarborough.

Members of the group will file dispatches from New Orleans to The Daily Briarcliff during the trip. See the previous story about the team’s first day, published Sunday. Or see the story from the group's second day, published Tuesday.

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