Returning to The Pass
WILMORE, KY—Two years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf coastline, Asbury College students are still returning to Pass Christian, Mississippi, to help the local people rebuild their homes and lives.
Alyssa Amey went on the College’s first trip to the community during Thanksgiving break of 2005, just two months after the devastation. She went on her fourth trip to “The Pass” during Thanksgiving break this year. “When the call came to give up Thanksgiving break in 2005 for the hurting Gulf Coast, I was the first person in line. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t know a single other person on the 80 person team,” she said. “Years down the road I will still make the trip to The Pass because that first trip I could see past the destruction to the town’s former glory.”
This Thanksgiving, a group of 17 went to Pass Christian Nov. 18-24. The team included Doug Butler, director of library services,
his wife, Janet, Joe Wiley ’06, and Ken Pickerill, professor physical education, and students Alyssa Amey, Holly Boyd, Merideth Bush, Stephen Bush, Hannah Helfen, Arthur Kadlec, Suzanne Keeley, Nathan Lavin, Seth Littrell, Rebekah Lyons, Sarah McQueen, Rachel Miller and Rebecca Murphy.
The team, working through a volunteer organization called Randy’s Rangers, installed concrete-based composite house siding, completed a shingle roof and completed wall and ceiling insulation for three houses.
“I am extremely proud of everyone who sacrificed finances, time away from studies for the students, and time away from family during the Thanksgiving holiday,” Pickerill said. “We made a difference in the lives of three families for they now can begin the drywall process that takes them a step closer to moving into their new homes. This is especially poignant when you realize they lost at least ninety-five percent of their belongings and personal keepsakes.”
This Asbury volunteer team and the six others before it have worked extremely hard to help the people of Pass Christian, however, the work is not finished. Rachel Miller, who made her third trip to The Pass, said, “Sometimes it's difficult to feel as if we are accomplishing much because the work we do seems small compared to the overwhelming need that still exists, but we realize that every little bit helps, and that's why it's important to keep going back. A piece of my heart still lives in The Pass, and I very much hope that I can continue to go down.”
While much of the destruction has been cleared away, Miller said, “Now there are just tons and tons of empty lots or empty land. Many spots where there were once houses have only the foundations to them.”
For Amey, this trip not only marked her first time roofing a home, but her first time standing on a roof. However, despite her lack of experience, the team’s leader, Randy May of Randy’s Rangers, was impressed with Asbury College and its students. “Randy told us at the end of the week that he hadn’t quite known what to expect from a small Christian college in Kentucky. But we left a great impression. He told us that he thought we represented ourselves, our school, and our God extremely well.”
For the Asbury College volunteers who continue to travel back to The Pass, reconstructing homes is not just about learning new construction skills or building a new home. Amey said, “I’ve learned so much from my trips to Pass Christian, not only hands-on construction skills I’ll have for the rest of my life, but spiritual lessons that have shaped who I am. I’ve learned that every act that you do for someone, no matter how insignificant it may seem, means the world to the person you helped. I’ve learned that being ‘God’s hand’ to people is a responsibility and an honor.”
Asbury College relief team number eight is scheduled to leave for Pass Christian in January.