Volunteer Profile: NCNW of Florida State University

“Home is somewhere surrounded by love with the ones that are closest to you. It doesn’t eve have to be by blood. It’s an environment that you feel love and caring. The way I see it, something you put work into and effort to make people feel welcome. That’s home.” – Melissa, FSU

Florida State University students with NCNW have made New Orleans a priority. NCNW is an international service organization that focuses on serving women and children of color, started in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune. Students with NCNW at Florida State have taken their annual service trip to New Orleans for the last three years, each time helping with home building.

“We’re a community service organization,” said Melissa Castor. “We love any way we can to help the community. [NCNW] is serious about our mission statement. We’re serious about the business of serving and giving back to the community.”

Melissa is one of the student leaders of NCNW at Florida State. She has family in the New Orleans area and saw through their experiences the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Her family’s experiences showed her that there was a need for affordable housing and recovery work in the city, but it wasn’t until she volunteered that she fully understood both the need and the impact.

“The families that needed help, they all had a story, behind each and every house,” she said. “That’s what interested us the most because we’re not just building houses. We’re building houses for a family that has a story. You actually get to see who you’re building the house for.”

She learned in her first year some of the obstacles homeowners faced in rebuilding and returning, and she saw as she came back year after year the impact her organization’s volunteer work had, which is what brought them back again this year.

“We chose New Orleans because when we came last year we saw how much of an impact [we had] doing restoration projects,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, and we want to take part in that. We’re all about service. We’re all about helping others.”