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The best summer

“Do you remember the best summer of your life?” read the first line of Marjorie Hart’s book, Summer at Tiffany.

“Do you?” asked Marjorie who sat next to me at a recent fundraiser. Marjorie, the author of the best seller, wrote about the best summer of her life that took place when she worked at the loved jewelry store years ago.

I asked myself her question and I do.

It involved 110 degrees of heat, 40 percent humidity, axes, hammers, a ton of sweat and an ambitious belief that a few people could make a difference in a city torn by one hurricane and millions of turned backs.

It was, by every definition, the very best summer of my life.

And I remember it well.

It began shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the greater Gulf Coast area. I hopped on the trolley at SDSU and met fellow student Adam who was recruiting volunteers to join him in a summer volunteer trip in New Orleans.

It took a 20-minute discussion with Adam and about an hour of internal pondering to convince me to join him in his efforts. Within weeks, I landed in New Orleans.

My first week in “Nawleans,” as we so lovingly called the city, was filled with gutting homes, tutoring kids and packing food boxes in the area that was comparable to a third-world country—only the area existed in the U.S.

I remember the passion that emerged from my peers and the equal amounts of frustration and concern. I remember how I felt landing back home in San Diego too. I remember the tears that filled my eyes and the guilt that overcame my heart for leaving so many behind.

I remember other moments too. I remember the feeling of strength after knocking down walls in a ready-to-rebuild home. I remember the names of each child we worked with and I remember the stories, dances and laughs.

I had never worked so hard in my life.

It’s been years since that summer in New Orleans that ultimately kicked off the treasured College Students for New Orleans, but the fervent feelings remain because the necessity of assistance and the camaraderie built remain. The memories are so fierce they’ve been documented in a number of stories.

So yes, I remember the best summer of my life, Marjorie.

I remember my first time at Tiffany too.