LUCAP encourages student action in New Orleans community

A student on a ladderdips a brush into a paint bucket held up by another student while volunteering.

Jacob L'Hommedieu

Jacinta Bacot (left) and Brashanda McCoy (right) paint a home for the Saint Bernard Project initiative on Oct. 1st, 2022. The Saint Bernard Project is a disaster relief non- profit organization.

Sydney Piglia, Staff

From feeding homeless and low-income people on the third Saturday of every month at Crescent City Cafe, to helping rebuild homes in St. Bernard and Orleans parish through the St. Bernard Project, the Loyola University Community Action Program volunteers do it all,  said the program’s president, Shelbi Bias. 

The Loyola University Community Action Program is a student-run and organized volunteer organization that has been part of the Loyola community for 40 years. They give students opportunities to impact the local community through service, Bias said. 

“The best part of working with LUCAP is being able to make an impact in the community because small waves can lead to big changes,” Bias said.

Volunteers are connected directly to the community surrounding Loyola and immersing themselves in the New Orleans culture, she said. 

“Being able to not only bring awareness to Loyola students, many of which come from various cities, states, and countries is helpful, but to also have a hand in making improvements (feeding the hungry, rebuilding homes, decorating rain barrels) on these issues is also helpful,” Bias said. 

Volunteer coordinator Jai Shy, a junior majoring in sociology, has been volunteering with LUCAP since their freshman year and has especially enjoyed being able to walk dogs with the New Orleans Animal Rescue. 

“My experience has been very rewarding. I believe it is very important to give back in any capacity and LUCAP is connected with ways to serve the community,” Shy said.

Besides connecting students with serving the community, LUCAP also connects students with each other. Feelings of loneliness are especially common now after not only a long pandemic, but a growing societal push for hyper-independence. According from a VICE article from earlier this year, “30% of young people say they don’t know how to make new friends and they’ve never felt more alone.”

LUCAP helps students make direct connections with those they serve. Programs like Cafe Con Ingles, which has students teach English, or Joy Relief which provides help to victims of hurricanes give students those face-to-face relations that can often be hard to make. 

Students interested in volunteering with the Loyola University Community Action Program can sign up for various events through the link in their Instagram. Students can find an event perfect for them and get involved with a cause they care about, Bias said. 

Shy said volunteers learn “the value of giving back,” which can give students a break from the stress of academic life. 

“Get involved with LUCAP and live the Jesuit values we all hold dear to our heart,” Shy said.