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Good Samaritan Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity

January 16, 2013

Louisiana – Tuesday, January 8

I left Morgan City and headed straight for Thibodaux. A little homework last night had shown me there was a Good Samaritan Food Pantry in Thibodaux that was open on Tuesdays from 9-noon – perfect timing. I found their location, and went in to talk with someone to see what they might need. The answer came pretty fast – they were totally out of juice. And they recommended I go to the Family Dollar store a couple blocks down on the same street, because that would help me stretch my dollars! So I went to Family Dollar and filled up the cart with a variety of juice – apple, cranberry, cranapple, grape and Sunny Delight. I got around 30 bottles of juice and it was a heavy load and took a while to ring up and bag. When I pulled back into the parking lot at the food pantry, one of the volunteers was outside with a young couple who had just picked up some food, and she wanted to give them a bottle of juice too. That was the first time part of my donation went straight from the van into the waiting hands of someone who needed it – that touched me. And the recipient came over to say thank you. Then I went inside where Melodia, the manager, showed me around their food pantry. The juice shelf was indeed totally bare. While I was shopping, one of the volunteers had contacted the local newspaper, and by the time I got back a reporter was there, and she had some questions about what I was doing, and about the food bank. She was very easy to talk to, and we got some pictures (I think her article ran in their Saturday paper but I haven’t seen it). I talked with Melodia some more, and as always, it’s really interesting to hear how different food banks work.

When I was done at the food pantry, I headed back to the Family Dollar store area. I had noticed a Bayou Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop right next to the Family Dollar, and I took it as a sign that I might want to make another donation today! I went in and looked around a little (the last thing I need is more stuff in the van!) and then talked with one of the volunteers, who told me that all the proceeds from the thrift shop go to help with repairing and building homes in the bayou area. After Hurricane Isaac last August, there was still a lot of work to be done, and I wanted to help since Louisiana seems to have dealt with more than her share of hurricane troubles and the like. I talked with a couple of the volunteers who were interested in what I was doing, and they were very grateful for the donation, and they also sent me a very nice email later. One of the volunteers had a tree branch fall on her house last August during the hurricane, and she’s only just now able to move back in, and she kept doing her volunteer work the whole time. There’s a lot of people with big hearts! And I wouldn’t have seen this place if I hadn’t been shopping for the juice for the food pantry – another thing that was meant to be!

By now it was well after noon, and Tula and I hadn’t done any walking. So I found a different place to park, and we got out and walked thru the historic area of town, and then down one of the long main streets – we got nearly 3 miles in, and made it back to the van right as it started to rain again. From Thibodaux I headed south to Houma, which has a lot of bridges because of all the rivers and bayous. Back at the food pantry, Melodia had told me about several deserving organizations I could donate to in Houma, and if I hadn’t seen Habitat for Humanity, I would have donated to one of them. But all my Louisiana donations are done. It was raining lightly in Houma, so I left Tula in the car and put on my rain jacket and got a couple more miles of walking in. I went past another big cemetery with the above-ground tombs and crypts – so different from back home.

Then I wanted to drive as far south into shrimping/bayou country as I could. The little 2-lane highway leading to the edge of the state must have been built on what little solid ground there was in this area – there’s lakes, bayous, wetlands – lots of watery areas. The road followed yet another bayou, and I saw more shrimp boats than I ever have before. Some were in disrepair and were in the slow process of sinking, and other shrimp boats looked bigger than the small houses they were tied up by. And there were lots of drawbridges too – the shrimp boats have to work their way down the bayou to open water for their fishing.

I drove through Presque Isle, and Chauvin and all the way down to Cocodrie at the edge of solid land, passing shrimp boats all the way. I also passed little warehouse areas where the shrimp boats could stop for fuel and ice. The road just dead-ended in the little marina community of Cocodrie, and Tula and I pulled into the marina and walked up and down the different piers. All the houses were up high on stilts, and there were even trailer homes raised up high in wooden frameworks to hold them up there (how they are lifted up their I don’t know!). It seemed like a very isolated sort of life. With darkness soon to fall and some rain moving in, I knew it was time to head for less watery ground! Once I backtracked about 10 miles, there was another road so that I could make sort of a loop back to Houma. This road was very narrow and curvy, going through lots of swamp land and marshes – beautiful and desolate. It started to rain and I was happy to be heading back to civilization. By the time I got to Houma it was absolutely pouring, and I can’t imagine what that does to the lowlands I was just in. I had a little trouble getting out of Houma to head northeast – what with all the different bridges and construction, even my GPS was getting confused. I only walked 5 miles today due to rainy weather, but I’ll finish the other 3 tomorrow as I wrap up my Lousisiana week.
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