Northpoint High School Seniors Mackenzie Schutte and Tashi Genshock are two AmeriCorps Student Ambassadors who serve at Northpoint Middle School. They are mentors and tutors in the classrooms, but also vital examples for their peers. They do this within the framework of their AmeriCorps hours, but also never shy away from an opportunity to make an impact outside of their service as well.

The two recently took a trip to New Orleans in order to help families who are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. During their first day in NOLA, they painted a mural at Burnell’s Grocery- the only grocery store located in the lower 9th ward- and served with Volunteers of America to purchase and wrap Christmas gifts for those in need.

While in New Orleans, they also partnered up with an organization called Youth Re-building New Orleans. Youth Re-building New Orleans was started after Hurricane Katrina by students who weren’t old enough to be apart of most organizations. These students wanted to help rebuild New Orleans, so they decided to start their own non-profit in order to contribute to their community. To help with building these homes, Mackenzie and Tashi took nails out of boards (to repurpose wood), measured and cut wood to create fire protection, and they put up plywood for the house’s walls.

Mackenzie sightseeing in between service projects in New Orleans.

During their last day in NOLA, Mackenzie and Tashi partnered up with the Church of Zion. The Church’s mission is to build gardens in order to teach families to support themselves by planting and growing their own food. As a part of their service, the two pulled weeds, dug up potatoes, and restored the gardens. These gardens produce sweet potatoes, herbs, green onions, etc. One day, these gardens will be maintained by the community and will allow the lower ninth to continue creating their own produce. While in New Orleans, Mackenzie and Tashi experienced a service trip like no other. These experiences and life lessons will resonate with them throughout their whole life and add value to their AmeriCorps service.