Volunteer help at our Art, Habitat, & Heritage Institute in Lacombe, Louisiana, USA

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  • Description


    WELCOME to our site. Thanks for your interest. We need your help. After a long, hard freeze this past winter, we have a lot of general yard and garden clean up and planting to do. Also, I am partially handicapped, so I can use some strong guys for construction.

    We inhabit a 2 acre site in the subtropical rain forest & wetlands of Lacombe, Louisiana on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain: 40 miles to the New Orleans French Quarter; 30 minutes to the Gulf Coast. This property is a progressive creative and educational venue utilizing heritage and entertainment to develop an appreciation for the preservation, protection, promotion, and presentation of the environmental, historical, and cultural heritage of the area, in order to pass along this heritage to future generations.

    It is an edu-tainment venue based upon a modified Mayan Indian and Choctaw Indian theme. Help is needed for supervised work on projects related to modified Mayan architecture, art, and agronomy. Started in 1973, I have built/am building it with my own hands according to my own designs. It is still very much a work in progress, and due to unsuccessful knee operation I could use the help of those with skill and strength to do what I can no longer do, but can teach.
    As a southern Louisiana boy, I was raised to be polite and considerate to all. I try to accommodate my life to assure my interns maximum educational exposure and opportunity to learn and apply. During your contribution to our projects, circumstances vary and frequently dictate the daily work specifics, but our master plan remains consistent and constant. Through this profile, and our initial meeting with the intern, we attempt to adequately communicate the terms and conditions of the stay and work. I personally ask for pardon for misunderstandings due to language, poor hearing on my part, or lack of familiarity. We try to be clear, honest, and forthcoming. We are neither ashamed nor shocked by others, or ourselves.
    Living with others who are unfamiliar is part of the cultural challenge desired by clients who participate in our International Interns Initiative through Workaway. We live together in my home and must make allowances, but not be uncomfortable in close quarters.
    I am somewhat of a free and unconventional spirit, so I scratch where and when I itch, belch and fart appropriately, curse frequently, disagree when I want, and hug when happy. This is me. I am what I am.
    I intend to give each intern the personal attention and affection they deserve from me as a responsible host. Female interns are accorded proper respect without deference. We try to vet everyone before we accept them.
    Naturally, not everyone fits in. Each has a different idea of what they wish from the experience. Sometimes what they want does not match with what we offer.
    However, we always try to meet as strangers, but part as friends.

    LEARN-WORK-PLAY: We need people with appropriate skills, or who are willing to learn, who can contribute to our progress. We are in need of construction help and landscape improvement. Tom is a building contractor and instructor, so you can learn from his experience while you work. This property is a progressive educational venue utilizing heritage, art, travel, environment, and entertainment to develop an appreciation for our construction projects.

    It is designed to be unique and of interest to interesting people. If you wish to contribute to this unique and somewhat extraordinary venue, we encourage you to apply. Applicants will be vetted and once accepted are entered into a hold harmless agreement with the host. We welcome interested and interesting people who can contribute to our building mission. While there are openings for cleaning and hauling, digging, landscaping, and general grunt work, we are specifically looking for skills in electrical work, carpentry, masonry, and other trades. If you learn, I teach.

    Digital technology and computer skills that can be taught to me are also sought along with other creative talents. Since I am on limited Social Security living assistance, lack of funding frequently limits our effectiveness and progress. Your ideas and help are needed and welcome.

    We have several options for your interest and help:
    1) An Art Initiative, an edu-tainment venue based upon an interpretive Mayan Indian and Choctaw Indian theme. Help is needed for supervised work on projects related to modified Mayan architecture, art, Eco-technology, astronomy,and agronomy.

    2) A 501 (c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to preserve, protect, promote, and present the environmental, historical, and cultural heritage of the area, in order to pass along this heritage to future generations.

    3) A Sip, Sup, and Snore hospitality venue:. This is our physical site where you will work, and live, and learn.

    4) Tours specializing in eco-adventure and historical tours of the area along the Gulf Coast with special emphasis on First American culture and history. We also conduct in-depth cultural heritage and adventure tours for select clients in the Yucatan and Central America.

    Personal info...
    Tom: I like all music, although all I can play is the radio. I love dogs, ( I have a male black Lab, Barack, and female Boxer, Chitto) blue sky flying high, reef diving, clear water, good wine, lovely women, intelligent men, existentialism, exploration, excitement and enjoyment! I pride myself on being a good host, if only slightly crazy. Give it a try. My life motto: "If I can, I must!"

    Matteo is my 27-year old Canadian colleague and adoptive grandson. He is an apprentice trainee in our various business and nonprofit projects. He speaks fluent Spanish and is an avid cyclist who conducts bike tours locally and for our Yucatan adventures. (Unfortunately, he is presently confined to Canada due to immigration mandates...one of the reasons I need your help.)

    We welcome interested and interesting people who can contribute to our mission. As part of our LEARN-WORK-PLAY program, you will be taught skills and given training in various areas of our development and action plan. As a volunteer/guest you are expected to contribute four to six hours per day to our mission depending upon factors like weather, materials, etc. During your free time, we will enable you to experience the recreational and cultural benefits of our area for your enjoyment.

    There are always several projects underway, some large, some small, to which you can contribute. We are still definitely a work in progress.

    Digital technology skills are also sought along with other creative talents to produce videos for our Louisiana Video Productions. Your ideas and help are needed and welcome.

    Thank you for choosing our facility as a place to share your work skills and learn new ones. As our intern you will not only learn what to do, but how to do it. We welcome you as guest-helpers to contribute to our mission. This is not a spa, nor just a relaxing place to stop on your journey...although it is that too and more. Ours is a unique venue in several ways. It is a work in progress, so we appreciate your special contribution.
    • As with any host/visitor relationship there are requests, requirements, rules, regulations, and reasons that are necessary for a mutually beneficial association. Common sense, courtesy, and consideration go a long way for a pleasant stay.

    We are several united entities: business, educational, and nonprofit.
    • Our tours for profit, which supports our nonprofits.
    • A Heritage Center 501 (c) 3 nonprofit.
    • An edutainment venue nonprofit.
    • A Sip, Sup, and Snore hospitality venue, which will support our nonprofit.

    As you can imagine, many adventurous travelers are intrigued by our mission and apply to participate in order to learn and experience what we offer. Unfortunately, we can only accept a select few. Not all are qualified nor able to perform the work required.
    We try to assign our interns to related projects according to their interest, skill, and ability; particularly in construction. But, we also engage you in our Academy of the Beyond, which enables you to go beyond belief.
    As a retired contractor and planner, I can, given enough time and effort, provide you the instruction and training that will be helpful to you here and now, and in the future. We don't just teach you What to think, we teach you How to think.
    Physical labor is appreciated, valued, and required, and is used as a tool to compliment our instruction. It is a benefit to you as you learn certain creative aspects of our master plan.

    Sanitation and Maintenance
    Do not throw paper towels, feminine hygiene products, or similar items into the toilets, only toilet paper, as we are on a septic system and these items clog the lines. Use the wire basket beside the toilet for trash...empty when full. Toilets need to be cleaned once a week.
    Another no-no for the septic system: no grease or cooking oil poured into kitchen drains.

    Organic kitchen materials (not meat scraps) go into the compost heap. Use the container on the counter. It must be emptied every night because it attracts rats, roaches, flies, and gnats.
    Chicken bones, and assorted meat bones go into the garbage under the sink. This should be emptied every night. Ditto on why.
    Garbage goes into the covered cans outside. Plastic and non edibles can go into uncovered cans. Monday is garbage collection day.
    Dishes must be washed every night before retiring. We use a water-saving procedure to hand wash dishes, which we will show you. We also have an electric dishwasher, which we will show you how to load.
    Floors should be swept at end of the day.

    ALWAYS keep the outer doors closed to keep out rats, roaches, mosquitoes, and snakes. This a major problem and must be done.
    The entire property is fenced and gated for security and privacy. You are welcome to enjoy the grounds and come and go as you desire. When coming and going, please keep the gates closed and assure that the dogs are inside the fence.

    Since we are not off the electric grid, please conserve energy by turning off lights and equipment when not needed.

    Work expected
    The great concept behind our International Intern Initiative is that there is no direct tuition charged to those who are selected to participate in our Learn-Work-Play intern program. Interns can learn much more from us than the usual volunteer exchange-for-help programs.
    Interns are expected to be available as needed for the task at hand. As a guest in my home, an intern is also responsible for daily household maintenance chores.

    Although there is no specific start time or quit time, the schedule is determined by type of work, weather, and other needs to accomplish the goals assigned. We expect between four, five, or six hours applied to the task from each worker per day of stay. However, there will be times when more time is required to accomplish a task, or less, depending upon weather and other circumstances.
    During summer, we work during the morning or early evening hours when it is cooler, and break during the heat of midday. In winter the reverse is true, when it is too cold to work in the morning and we must wait until it warms up during the day. If possible, when it rains, we work inside.

    Smoking is permitted outside.

    Accommodation is neither sumptuous nor Spartan, but it is included free in our intern scholarship, as is most food. However, individual tastes and preferences vary, so we ask that interns chip in occasionally on the food and beverages.

    Food will be supplied as required for meals. Sometimes we will cook Southern, sometimes Creole, sometimes Cajun, sometimes Creative. Most of our meals are plant-based, but include meat in preparation. Interns are encouraged to learn about our local culinary culture by participating in its preparation.
    Special food needs: allergies, vegan, are considered.
    Each intern helper is expected to contribute to meal preparation and clean up afterward. Please do not leave food out; replace it in the refrigerator.
    We try to keep the kitchen orderly, so after use please replace every pot or pan, dishes, and utensils to the same place.
    Since you are staying in my home I hope you will treat it better than you would yours, and keep things reasonably clean and tidy. Since we are still a work in progress consideration is made for the conditions. The rule of mutual courtesy is required, as is the rule of open curiosity. Do not hesitate to ask questions and give comments.

    You are welcome to use our washer and dryer for your dirty clothes. Wash clothes on a sunny day as our solar clothes dryer is a clothesline.

    Free time is your time. We have wifi, TV, and bicycles. Occasionally, we may provide tours of the local area. You are welcome to explore the area or just relax on our property, roam around, and feel free to ask about anything, or offer comments or suggestions to make your stay with us productive and enjoyable.
    Hopefully, we meet as strangers and remain as friends.

    Although this is not a spa, our Sip, Sup, and Snore does provide paid accommodations through Airbnb. Interns may be required to adjust to the rental circumstances.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Cooking / shopping
    General Maintenance
    Help with Eco project
    Help in the house
    Animal care
    Charity work
    Language practice
    Art project
    Help with Computers / internet

  • Help


    We assign projects to volunteers to finish as their ability and time applied requires. Special skills are given preference. Non-project volunteers are given random tasks as needed. Usually 5 hours per day are normal work times depending upon variables like weather and projects involved. Vols are also required to lend a hand in general household chores.We are building a venue suitable for theatrical presentations as well as unique structural variations based upon Maya architecture.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English some Spanish

  • Accommodation


    Upstairs bedroom: queen double and single bed. Cabana apartment: queen double and couch, Great Room: two comfortable couches. Grassy tenting under the oaks is available.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    New Orleans or the Gulf Coast is just under an hour away. 20,000-acre wildlife refuge half mile. Bayou Lacombe quarter mile...kayak rental. 31-mile long hike & bike trail (we supply bikes) at doorstep. No public transport. Through our tours we can either arrange or conduct trips to several different well known attractions like the French Quarter or little known areas back up in the swamps or along backroad byways.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    This area of Southeast Louisiana is a unique cultural entity blending a melange of Chacta Indian, Creole, Anglo, French, Spanish, African, Caribbean, into a vibrant mix of cultures that has adapted to a lush subtropical aquatic-oriented environment. The owner is a connoisseur of varied pursuits; a world traveler who has a wealth of knowledge and an unconventional life style that should be of interest to interesting people who want to explore, engage, and enjoy new adventures and intellectual challenges suited to their quest for exciting and enticing experiences.

  • ...

    Hours expected

    25 hours per week - flexible on times if you want to use my place as a base to explore other areas.

My Photo Album

Central patio area and work site.
Across our pond is our Maya pyramid.
Social area reflects Oriental orientation of owner.
Our Taiwanese kitchen staff.
Upstairs is small; neither Spartan nor sumptuous.
From our entertainment and social area a steep stairway gives access to Our Little Room Upstairs.
Gami Gazebo, Jacuzzi, and Great Room are of modified Mayan design.
Barack supervises all volunteers.

Host ref number: 458227616789