Graduates, circa 1969, return for seventh year to build houses

December 10, 2012 9:00 AM

Mary Ann Travis

For the seventh year in a row, a group of Newcomb College graduates from some 40 years ago traveled to New Orleans to swing hammers and pound nails. They helped build a safe, affordable Habitat for Humanity house that eventually will be sold to a local family.


Newcomb graduates at Habitat worksite

Tulane student Caroline Aviles, left, teams up with Rachelle Galanti Parker, a 1969 Newcomb College graduate, to nail boards together for a Habitat for Humanity house on Magnolia Street. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Each year, the week after Thanksgiving, the dozen or so friends have made the trip from their homes in California, Illinois, New York,  Washington and other states. This year, they worked on a house on Magnolia Street, a few blocks from Claiborne and Louisiana avenues. Tulane University students, Caroline Aviles and Kristen Wollman, joined them at the worksite.

Rachelle Galanti Parker, a former principal at a New Jersey high school, said that she keeps coming back to connect with friends and to give back to the city she loves. She also returns “so that I can become a more self-confidant woman, learning how to do things for myself.”

“I keep coming back because the story keeps getting better,” said Linda Lewis-Moors. “It’s heartwarming to see that the city is in some ways even better than it was when we were here originally. People like to see us, and we like to see them. Interacting with people who live here is a wonderful experience for us.”

The first year — 2006 — that the Newcomb group came, they finished construction on the Habitat home of Kewanda Baxter. Since then, the Newcomb women have stayed in touched with Baxter and her three children, providing educational supplies and other support.  

“She’s quite an amazing young woman,” said Carolyn “Puddin’” Brown Cox, about Baxter.

The Newcomb women are amazing, too, said Cox. “It’s not often that you get to maintain relationships for 40 years. These wonderful women get more marvelous every time we get together.”

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000