The effects of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 greatly impacted the area of Princeville and Tarboro in North Carolina, leaving many houses abandoned and in dire need of repair, impacting the community and displacing hundreds of people. In response to this, chaplain of Wilson College, Derek Wadlington, in combination with a local volunteer group ‘Lend a Hand’ spearheaded by Jim Davis, organized a trip in which twenty students from Wilson accompanied to help the people effected. For Chaplain Derek the location of North Carolina provided some warmth, but also needed help and seeing the success of last year’s trip was the driving force behind this initiative. The ‘Lend a Hand’ group is part of the Presbyterian church, in which they use faith to help others. According to Davis, people from the organization were willing to help with the teaching so that students were able to enjoy an eye opening experience and learn more practical skills.
Sunday morning we braved the journey from snowy Chambersburg to North Carolina, equating to a six hour ride. Once we arrived we picked our beds and were briefed on what to expect and what is expected of us, little or no experience was not a matter, just an energetic zeal and passion to learn and help develop new skills in a different environment. By the end of the day most of us were unsure of what to expect. James Pasaribu ’22 was excited to learn anything electrical and Cole Taylor ’22 was determined to learn something new.
Monday saw our first day of work. Being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there were a lot of volunteers assisting from VISTA/AmeriCorps. We were split into four groups which remained more or less the same throughout the week and sent to four different houses which all needed varying levels of repair. At the main street house, a vast ocean of nails were being pulled up which took a considerable amount of time. Other menial jobs were performed across the houses such as installing insulation to ensure the houses were ready for further work. The next few days saw students performing all manners of tasks such as nailing down floors, cutting up drywall and redoing the roofs of houses.
The progress seen throughout the week as well as the abilities of the students was pretty impressive. Initially unsure of what to do, students excelled and understood their tasks to the point that no supervision was required. Seeing walls being put up and roofs being finished was very satisfying. A favorite highlight of mine was going under the crawl space and installing insulation under the house, which was definitely an experience. Wearing the full suit was something that the four volunteers, Danielle Stafford ’21, Sarah Schaffner ’21 and ‘Lend a Hand’ Jim Nelson who was a veteran of these trips thoroughly enjoyed.
Overall, the experience was something that students really took to in which practical learning and news skills were developed. Returning student, Kaitlynn Bjonnes ’21 said of the trip that, “Compared to last year students were able to try a variety of things and work with different people”. The impact and magnitude of what we achieved throughout the week was also impactful on the students, as Olivia McDonald ’22 notes “Home owners were about to cry because of what it means and we’re really grateful for it”.