Pictured, from left, are Jake Eilers, junior, Breese; Cody Keller, junior, Belleville; Bryce Schuster, junior, Golden; Sam Klatch, freshman, Troy; Zach Carlson, senior, Quincy; Andrea Horn, senior, East Alton; Kelly Gaines, senior, Glen Carbon; Alexis Schad, sophomore, Shiloh; Matthew Curry, junior, Lincoln; and Chrissy Raffetty, senior, Collinsville. Not pictured: Mason Musick.
The SIUE Constructors Club spent Spring Break, March 9-12, in Washington, Ill., providing volunteer aid as the community continues to recover from last year’s devastating tornado.
Mason Musick, a senior School of Engineering student from Lincoln, wrote a description of the group’s experience:
We helped out in Joplin, Mo., after a tornado devastated that town, and we saw how much the members of the community appreciated our efforts. When a town as close as Washington got hit by the F4 tornado during November 2013, we knew we needed to help. Some of our club members are from that area, and many of us played Washington in sports, so it made our trip a little more meaningful.
We connected with Bethany Community Church, which was coordinating with volunteer groups and dispatching them to assist families in need. The church is also capable of providing a place to stay at night and daily lunches. We only had a few days to spend there and wanted to make the best of it.
Bethany Community Church definitely helped us achieve that. They own a large inventory of resources for the volunteers and community to utilize. The barn where they keep supplies has everything from tools and safety equipment to snacks, coats and boots. They really had the capabilities to provide the teams with anything they needed for their jobs.
During our first day of volunteering, we participated in two separate projects. First, we helped move a large pile of debris from the side of a busy road onto the curb, so traffic would no longer be at risk of running over anything.
Our second task of the day was to remove some subfloor and floor joists from a house that was completely wiped out. Another group had started on the subfloor and had about 25 percent of it taken up already. By the end of the day, we were able to completely remove the subfloor, all of the floor joists and clean up the entire property, so rebuilding efforts could commence.
Our second day was not as exciting since it didn’t entail any demolition, but it was still a very productive and rewarding experience. Our group was assigned to a section of the affected part of town to do some final stages of cleaning up. After all of the large pieces of debris are removed things look much better, but there are still tons of tiny pieces of glass, shingles, drywall and various other materials spread out all over the place.
We set out with trash bags, gloves, rakes and shovels to do the final thorough cleaning of yards that were at that stage. We were only allowed to clean from the sidewalk to the road without the owner’s consent. We were able to clean multiples blocks of debris and received extreme appreciation from residents who happened to be home or were passing by.
We were able to go into several elderly residents’ yards and do a complete cleaning, leaving them clear of glass, screws and other potentially harmful debris. Everyone we encountered this day was overjoyed with our presence and willingness to help complete strangers. We thoroughly enjoyed learning the stories of people, who we encountered, as much as they enjoyed hearing about who we are and what we do. It was definitely a day to cherish.
Our third day of volunteering was substantially different from our first two. Being from the Midwest, we are more than aware of the spontaneous weather changes during spring. Our first two days were about 70 degrees outside, but the third morning we woke up in the church’s farm house to realize it had iced in the early morning, snowed about 4” on top of that and then knocked out our power.
We had no heat or electricity in the house and no volunteering job to do since everything was under snow and ice. What we did have though was the will to get out and help in any way we could. We went out to the barn, grabbed a pile of scoop shovels and hand warmers, loaded up our bus and headed out for the neighborhood we were working on the day before. We figured if we didn’t have power, then they didn’t, either.
We wanted them to be safe if they left home seeking warmth and electricity, so we became the SIUE Snow Removal Team. We cleared the sidewalks of the streets we were working on along with the driveways, sidewalks and porches of the individuals who let us on their property the day before. All of the residents were even more grateful when they knew they were still in our thoughts the next day. We even found more residents home this day and offered to clear their properties, as well.
We left on Wednesday feeling good about what we had accomplished physically, but even more so about the impact we had on every individual who we met on this trip. We have done quite a few volunteering projects in the past and being able to help people who need it as much as the residents of Washington has put this one at the top of our list for most beneficial project.
We loved the time we spent there and would encourage any other groups interested in this kind of volunteering to pursue the opportunities.
This article is from SIUE's website, http://www.siue.edu/.