See and Serve America seeking funds for New Orleans service and learning tour for teenagers 1

Aiken native Mike Weaver, right, is the founder and project director for See and Serve America. Also pictured is University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides.

See and Serve America, a nonprofit, is seeking funding assistance and participants for its New Orleans Service Learning Teen Tour.

The departure from Aiken is set for Thursday, June 27, and the return to Aiken is scheduled for Sunday, June 30.

The tour is for young people who are 14 to 18 years of age.

On June 28, tour participants will work in a community garden in the Algiers section of New Orleans on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. They will perform tasks such as hauling dirt, pulling weeds, planting and preparing raised beds.

A visit to Robert Green, who will talk about his experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina, is planned for June 29.

Also that day, there will be visits to the campuses of Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana and Dillard University.

The evening will be spent on Bourbon Street.

On the way back to Aiken on June 30, there will be stops in Montgomery, Alabama, and Tuskegee University.

See and Serve America has enough funding to rent a 15-passenger van, and it will have two volunteer drivers.

The organization would prefer, however, to be able to charter a 55-passenger bus, which would cost around $7,000, said Mike Weaver, an Aiken native, who is the founder and project director of See and Serve America.

If enough money can’t be raised for the bus, See and Serve America would like to at least be able rent one additional 15-passenger van and would need two volunteer drivers for that vehicle. The rental cost for the van would be approximately $900.

Providing funding is a way for people to pay it forward, said Weaver, who lives in Atlanta.

“Many of us can look to individuals in our own lives who reached out to us and touched us,” he continued. “They were special to us, and they provided us with opportunities. There are Aikenites who donate to us every year to us.”

This will be the 13th service and learning tour for teenagers organized by Weaver since 2011. In addition to New Orleans, previous destinations have included New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

For this year’s New Orleans tour, transportation and lodging are free for teens who have been on previous tours organized by Weaver.

The cost for teenage tour newcomers for transportation and lodging will be “no more than” $70, Weaver said.

All teen participants must pay for their own meals.

They each will receive a free T-shirt.

For information about providing funds for the tour for vehicle costs or to register a teenager for the tour, send an email to mike@drmikeweaver.com or call 803-716-9622.

In 2017, Weaver received a Purpose Prize from AARP. Purpose Prizes recognizes people over the age of 50 who have "used their wisdom and experience to revitalize their lives and make the world a better place," according to the AARP.

Each winner receives $50,000.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.