Interview with Patricia Vile, Founder and President of Volunteer Expeditions

Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive and costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, slammed into New Orleans on this day in 2005. Exactly seven years later Hurricane Isaac is pounding Louisiana with heavy winds and rain, reviving the nightmare of Katrina.

While much progress has been made—so far the rebuilt levees are holding—New Orleans is still struggling to recover. Help is still needed and help is still being given. As in 2005, much of it by Jewish volunteers like the ones whose experiences are captured in JWA’s online exhibit, “Katrina’s Jewish Voices.”  

One organization involved in this effort is Volunteer Expeditions, helmed by the vibrant, openhearted Patricia Vile. The following interview makes clear how much she cares, how seriously she takes the value of Tikkum Olum.

Why did you start Volunteer Expeditions?   I was at a stage of my life when didn’t have a job, and I thought I would actually retire. I went on a trip to New Orleans because Hurricane Katrina so upset me. The news coverage was so disastrous, and I thought: How could this happen in the United States? So, I went on a volunteer trip to New Orleans and the need was so great and so many people were affected in such a dramatic and terrifying way. I thought maybe I could do something to make the situation easier.


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