Centre students use spring break to aid Katrina victims
RELEASED: April 5, 2007
Matt Ladwig '10, Bryce Meredith '09, Brad Erickson '09, Benjamin Cooley '09, Matt Kowaleski '08, Joseph Fisher '08, Jason Chadwick '08, Travis Stephens '08, David Horne '07 and alum Adam Blandford '06 worked with Shane Terrell of Centre's Campus Outreach, which is partnered with Danville's Grace Presbyterian Church, to arrange the trip.
Says Terrell, "When I heard about the need in Bay St. Louis, I thought this might be a great opportunity to take some students down for spring break. I investigated the logistics, asked some guys around campus that I knew, and before I knew it, I was making reservations for 10-15 people."
The project was organized by Terrell and a friend of his who was given access to more than a million dollars worth of building supplies needed to construct homes for those people who were uninsured and living in FEMA trailers.
"They basically needed people to help build homes," Kowaleski says, "While we were there I learned that there's still a ton of damage and repair that needs to be completed—most of which is being done by ordinary people like ourselves."
Adds Erickson, who spent time last summer working in Ocean Springs, Miss., "Going back to around the same area, I expected to see fewer FEMA trailers and more houses. It was a rude awakening driving into town and seeing only foundations of former houses still standing next to the ocean."
Accompanied by three contractors, the group worked for three full days on everything from roofing to wiring to plumbing to completing the outer frame on homes.
"The hardest part was packing the shingles up the ladder to the top of the roof," Stephens says. "Together, Adam Blandford and I carried 15 bundles of shingles that weighed about 86 pounds. Our shoulders, backs and knees hurt, but the experience was very humbling. We all learned a valuable trade, got the opportunity to see our efforts directly affect a family and grew closer with one another in the process."
The trip wasn't all work and no play. In addition to the relief efforts, the group took time to walk around New Orleans and attend the Florida-Purdue and Memphis-Nevada second-round NCAA tournament games.
"I really enjoyed being able to work and travel with a pretty random mixture of guys from Centre," Erickson says. "There were soccer players, tennis players, football players, Sigma Chi's, Phi Tau's, Phi Delts, and independents. Before the trip, only a few of us knew each other, but by the end, the experience made us a lot closer."
Adds Terrell, "I have loved getting to know the Centre students. The caliber of student here is so fun to be around. My time in Bay St. Louis with the guys was a blast and a lot of hard work. Our living conditions were tough and the food not so good, but the guys never complained. It was one of my best experiences with students in the 13 years I have worked for Campus Outreach. We were so humbled by our trip, and I'm confident we benefited far more than the families we helped."It was the simple gestures of the experience that meant the most to the students. From a local man at a store in Mississippi who thanked the group for their efforts to a fellow volunteer from the area who also expressed gratitude, each felt that they spent their spring break just as they should have—helping others and having fun in the process.
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