NEW ORLEANS -- Amtrak foreman Gilbert Isaac makes sure the passenger trains are in top condition. But in his off hours, Gilbert changes lives.
He's taking vacation time in June to lead a group of 14 young people on a trip to Washington D.C. "Very excited, because I love to reach out to children," Isaac said.
Gilbert and his chaperones will take the 10- to 14-year-olds to Washington by train, of course, and give them the trip of a lifetime.
"Outside of the White House, outside of the Capitol, outside of the Air and Space Museum," Gilbert said. "The children are very excited in what we do, very excited."
"Gilbert is an asset to Amtrak locally, but when you go outside Amtrak and see what Gilbert is able to do with the children," said Amtrak executive Todd Stennis.
Gilbert includes a wide range of children, some with disabilities or whose parents could not afford it. He started with small trips to nearby cities before Katrina.
"I normally pay for that, but the big trips like the Washington, D.C. I usually have fundraisers," Gilbert said.
The train tickets alone cost $4000. Gilbert held a raffle recently to raise those funds.
But when they get to Washington, he needs a little help with the expenses they'll face there."
"The kid's got to eat," Gilbert said. "They love hamburgers and hotdogs so they got to eat."
And they'll write essays about the trip on the train ride home.
"To us, I think that's a fantastic opportunity, not only for the children, but also a demonstration of what our employees do, not only for Amtrak, but outside in their own free time," said Stennis.
There are still some spaces available for children to make the trip. For information about the trip, or the help Gilbert Isaac needs, call 1-601-201-5407.