HPU ASB aids Alabama devastation


Spring break is the highlight of the spring semester for most college students. To 16 High Point University students and four advisers from Oak Ridge United Methodist Church, this year’s Alternative Spring Break program offered a different kind of vacation.

Setting out on a weeklong adventure in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this group of volunteers, including myself, drove eight hours to Holt, Ala. where we were hosted by a local church for the week. We were there to renovate and rebuild areas in the two cities, which had been devastated by a tornado that struck the state on April 27, 2011. Little did we know the experience would become something far greater than what we were anticipating.

The group consisted of myself, Nathan Strode, Luke Grome, Zach Hall, Andrew Boniche, Lauren O’Neill, Michele Langenbach, Dina Monssen, Kim Whiting, Rachelle Schmitt, Carmen Jackson, Aunya Butler, Catherine Kelly, Katelyn Schultz, Marissa Brauer and Hillary Herr; ranging in age from freshman to senior.

Together the team headed to their first site, where massive amounts of debris, warped fallen trees and a neighboring sign that read “No trespassing, Deadly force in use” welcomed them.

For one trailer home, we fixed the siding, put up insulation and dug ditches for plumbing and electrical. However, our jobs also included landscaping/cleaning debris in yards, flooring, building steps and landings for entrances into the trailer homes, digging up a sewer tank to have a new concrete lid put on it and assembling new furniture. The work we were doing was an educational experience in itself, but there were many other lessons we learned that week.

The unfamiliar surroundings were a shock to many students. Herr said to me, “Nobody should be living in such uninhabitable conditions.”

She was right – it was an eye-opening experience to see the destruction of a single tornado, and how severely the lives of those involved were affected.

This was the fifth alternative break trip I have signed up for since I’ve been at HPU, and this was one of the most meaningful trips. Not only because the people we helped were in such need, but because they were so thankful for what we were doing.

Out of all the people we were trying to help, there was one that really inspired us. A man named Jeremy, who had a family including two small children (5 and 6 years old), found his home completely destroyed. He bought another trailer with the little money he had left, and we were doing all we could to get that into living order for him and his family.

Seeing how motivated Jeremy was to repair his home and actually seeing him on site working with our team really motivated us to get as much done as possible.

We also saw how hopeful and innovative other locals were. One man had developed his own system in which he used fallen trees as building-lumber for several projects. From this, we learned important lessons, such as teamwork, leadership and the importance of a helping hand.

The friendships made were amazing, and the lessons learned invaluable. I would like to thank every member of the group for their hard work, as well as members of Oak Ridge Methodist Church who traveled with us and every other person who was a part of this trip.

I commend the students for going on this trip, because I know it benefitted them as much as it benefitted the families whose homes and lives had been ripped apart.

Campus Chronicle
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