News Release


To tens of thousands of college students nationwide, spring break meant one thing: partying. To many Trinity students, it meant serving. Fifty-seven students took part in a hurricane recovery project in Port Arthur, Texas.

“The effects of Hurricane Rita are still with these folks,” said Bethany VandeHey ’08 of Little Chute, Wisconsin. “We painted exterior walls, took down trees, picked up garbage, put in tile floor, wiped down siding, and just did whatever we could to help.”
Needs still linger, 20 months after Hurricane Rita.

“Many people can't afford to repair their own houses let alone help out neighbors,” said Ashley Groen ’10 of St. John, Indiana. “I was surprised by the number of empty buildings and downed trees left from the storm.”

Trinity relief workers received a mixed response from property owners. Some reacted to the home improvements with gratitude. Others were timid and wary.

“They aren’t used to getting this help,” VandeHey said. “Others have been taken advantage of. I’ve heard many stories about roofers, electricians, and other trade workers taking people’s money and fleeing.”

The work of Trinity students caught the eye of the Disaster News Network. The organization detailed the hurricane relief efforts in a recent news publication and quoted Collin Barnes ’10 of Soap Lake, Washington.

“I’d never been on a mission trip before, but it’s always been something I want to do,” Barnes told the news network. “I just saw the opportunity and so I did it, and I’m really glad I did.”

Neighborhoods in Port Arthur are slowly returning to their pre-hurricane appearance.
Many homes have been repainted and many roofs have been patched. Students say were inspired by the progress they saw.

“When we would finish a house and see the homeowner’s smiling face, it was so rewarding,” Groen said. “Another highlight was being surrounded with so many hard-working, Christ-centered peers and sharing our faith by our actions.”

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