‘You Don’t Know How it Feels To Be Someone Else’s Blessing’
A group of 20 students and staff from Alma College joined seven
members of the Milford Presbyterian Church on a weeklong service trip
to Gautier, Mississippi, to do home repair for individuals still
recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
The trip from Dec. 16 through 23 proved to be a blessing both to the Mississippi homeowners and the Michigan volunteers.
“It was a fabulous trip,” said Carol Gregg, Alma College Chaplain and trip leader. “Everybody was fully involved, willing to learn, and motivated to work above and beyond the call of duty.”
“One home owner said she was lying in bed crying and wondering how to get her house painted when the church called asking if a college group could come over and paint,” said Gregg. “One of the students said, ‘You don’t know how it feels to be someone else’s blessing.’”
One of the group’s assignments for the trip was the paint the church’s fellowship hall. But since the students preferred to work with the homeowners, they chose to work in the homes during the day and volunteered to give up an evening to paint the fellowship hall. The students accomplished the task, all in one evening.
In addition, three students chose to rise extra early on the last day of the trip to complete a drywall project before their departure in the afternoon.
Stomach flu afflicted about half the group. “But the students didn’t
complain,” said Gregg. “They took a day to let the illness run its
course and then went back to work.”
“I’ve participated in a lot of alternative break experiences, and this was a particularly motivated and congenial group,” she said. “The Milford Church representatives were impressed with the students and underestimated how energetic our students can be. They got used to us saying, ‘More work...We need more work.”
For Joe Bishop, the Milford church’s volunteer coordinator, it was the sixth trip to Mississippi to assist in post-hurricane cleanup efforts.
“The students were really great,” he said. “They have an energy that surprised us. It was nice to see. They were anxious to get out, work and meet the people. It was a wonderful experience. The people there just loved the volunteers.”
The Milford Presbyterian Church donated $11,000 to fund the trip. Since the church was unable to garner enough volunteers from its members, it decided to partner with the College so more people could help out. Nineteen Alma students and Gregg accompanied seven church members.
The group worked with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and stayed at the Gautier Presbyterian Church. The experience included a side trip to New Orleans.
Posted: Tue, January 16th, 2007 at 1:00PM