Prep Students Build Houses in New Orleans with Shirts Across America 


Students attending the 2022 Shirts Across America pose in a house under construction.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana Coast on August 29, 2005. It was classified as a category 3 storm with winds reaching 120 miles per hour. The storm continued moving north, making a second landfall over Hancock County Mississippi, leaving mass destruction in its wake. Katrina is responsible for approximately $108 billion (about $330 per person in the US) in damage and 1,833 fatalities.

Founded in January of 2007, Shirts Across America was created by high school and college students in Seattle with the goal of building housing for families in New Orleans and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes. Since its founding, Shirts Across America has sent over 4000 volunteers, including many students from the Seattle Prep community to the Gulf Coast region who have worked on 200+ homes/projects.

Junior Courtney Stockwell took the journey to New Orleans over spring break in 2022. “My whole family is from New Orleans, and I remember my aunt telling me about her experience during hurricane Katrina,” Stockwell said, “Her entire basement was flooded and destroyed by the hurricane… I really wanted to go on the trip to give others the help that my aunt received in rebuilding her house and her life.”

Lauren Teders 23’ also went on the service trip in 2022. Teders claimed that “The most impactful part of the trip was definitely the people that I met, everyone was so supportive and understanding of one another, and we were all able to learn and grow because of it.”

As for one of the most unexpected takeaways, Teders and Stockwell agreed that the emphasis on learning the history of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement was highly impactful. Stockwell said that “Walking over the same bridge Martin Luther King Jr. walked on made the history I had learned previously in class come to life and I was able to grasp more of a full picture of the true impact of his work.”

For anyone debating on signing up for the Shirts Across America program, Teders said, “I would tell someone to totally do it! It feels absolutely amazing to give back to a community and along the way you get the chance to see some amazing places.”