M3 Physical Therapy - February 2020


WWW.M3PT.COM / LA · 310.275.4137 / WEST HILLS · 747.888.3562 / FEBRUARY 2020



repaired, and new life was breathed into the neighborhood. But the city’s revival was most evident during Mardi Gras. Now, if you aren’t from New Orleans, you might have a distorted image of the famous festival. For instance, there is far more than just the Fat Tuesday parade down Canal and Bourbon Street. Parades of all sizes happen the whole month in the lead up to the main event, often confined to local neighborhoods. These smaller celebrations are also more family-centered and less about the debauchery many people think of when you mention Mardi Gras. It was at these more communal gatherings where you really had a sense that the city was coming back. After two years, people had had time to relocate and heal — and you could feel the joy in every celebration throughout the month. Once empty streets were now filled with people, music, and laughter. I’ll never forget that experience. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see Mardi Gras for yourself, maybe don’t start with Bourbon Street. If you can stay at a local bed and breakfast and talk with locals about the smaller parades, you can find a truly authentic New Orleans experience. I still miss that community and would love to return someday. For now, though, I’m just grateful to have learned what perseverance truly looks like and to have seen how joy and celebration can continue to flourish despite adversity.

devastation left by Katrina all over the news just a year prior. Still, I really didn’t know what to expect when I moved to the Crescent City in 2007. What immediately surprised me was how much work was left to be done to repair the damage the hurricane had caused. Moving into the volunteer residence in Mid-City, I was struck by how desolate the neighborhood was. Most of the houses were still in ruin, and few people had returned home. It was shocking that a full two years after the fact, a mainland city in the United States could still be reeling from a natural disaster. But as extensive as the damage was and as slow as aid was to come from the outside, the people of Louisiana were still doing their best to pick up the pieces. I’d been assigned to the Catholic Charities of New Orleans, an organization that had become a primary service provider in the region, filling the void of many civic functions that were still not reestablished. For instance, my work involved designing curriculums for five different parishes and making sure they were equipped with all the books and supplies they needed. Sometimes I had to take materials to schools myself, using the few remaining bus networks in the city to get those vital supplies where they needed to be. On every level, people did their part, and slowly but surely, the city came back together. The houses around our lodging were

As I’ve mentioned in the past, most physical therapists have a strong background in philanthropy. You don’t succeed in this profession without a strong desire to help others. Our own Roberta Brehm is a living testament to this, having served multiple years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. So, with Mardi Gras this month, we wanted to share the story of her time in New Orleans, as the city came together in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is much like the AmeriCorps program: It’s a service organization that fields volunteers to local charitable groups and organizations. The Corps helps you with housing and gives you a stipend for living expenses while you serve the communities you’re sent to. Like most of the Corps’ volunteers, I joined almost straight out of college, eager to see other parts of the country and do my part to help others. While I’d gone into the program hoping to change others’ lives, the experience ended up changing me as well. I had already been in the Corps a year when I was sent to Louisiana. During my time volunteering in Nashville, I’d met people from that part of the country and other volunteers who had done service in New Orleans itself. They’d told me a lot about local Louisiana culture and traditions. And, of course, I’d seen the –Dr. Raul Lona

Laissez les bons temps rouler,

–Roberta Brehm

LA · 310.275.4137 / WEST HILLS · 747.888.3562 | 1

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