Before the spring semester even got started, a group of University of Indianapolis students and staff from the University of Indianapolis boarded a bus for Texas on a mission to provide hurricane relief. Hurricane Harvey has been out of the headlines for months, but the devastation from record flooding remains.
Nearly two-dozen students traveled to the Orange, Texas area cleaning up damaged homes and removing drywall, sheetrock and insulation. Jonathan Yorkowitz, associate dean of students, said the trip is a continuation of the strong campus response to last fall’s hurricane season.
“The staff wanted to continue to do more, because it’s not just the immediate impact, but the long-term impact disaster has on individuals, families, and communities for years to come,” Yorkowitz said.
The group of 23 students and two staff worked with United Methodist Relief on clean-up and restoration of homes impacted by flooding. The group, donning goggles, hard hats and face masks, tore down walls, insulation and removed appliances.
Win Yee ’21 (marketing) said the work was physically challenging but satisfying.
“It was exhausting, but what is my exhaustion compared to the tragedies the victims of Hurricane Harvey went through?” Yee said.
For Esther Mullins ’21(medical laboratory science), the hard work paid off in terms of new friendships and memories.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve in affiliation with our school. We met some incredible and inspiring people in Texas. The owners of the homes we were working in basically lost everything due to the water damage, and it was an incredible experience to be able to serve them,” Mullins said.
Students were selected for the trip through an application process.
“The University of Indianapolis is about ‘Education for Service’ and this work exemplifies that desire. With that in mind, we asked students if they would be interested in participating in a service trip and received an overwhelming response,” Yorkowitz explained.
Shortly after Harvey struck, the Division of Student and Campus Affairs worked with through the office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs to partner with UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and gather donations of much-needed toiletries for those who were impacted. A fundraising drive also was established to send monetary donations to the Houston (Texas) Food Bank to purchase supplies. Additionally, a blood drive was organized to help restock blood supplies at the Indiana Blood Center after many units of blood were contributed to the victims in Texas.
Emily Sands ’18 (Finance major, Spanish minor) has participated in several service-learning events including the trip to Texas, UIndy Day of Service, Super Saturday of Service and is involved in the UIndy Lilly Scholars Network at Wheeler Mission Ministry facilities. With plans to do service work in Guatemala after graduation, Sands appreciates the opportunities she’s had at UIndy to give back.
“There are constantly ways to volunteer and hands-on classroom experiences are often times offered through non-profit partnerships. There is even a concentration in service learning. I have grown to love the motto, ‘Education for Service’ because it inspires me to humble myself and consider how God can use my gifts and education to meet the needs of the world,” Sands said.