On May 20, an EF-5 tornado destroyed homes, two elementary schools and a hospital in Moore, Okla.
Berry College Volunteer Services (BCVS) decided to help by planning a rebuild Oklahoma trip in mid-July. Seventeen Berry students and faculty made the 827-mile drive to help clean up the town. They spent four days at the disaster site assisting with clean-up and stocking relief supplies and food at City Rescue Mission shelter, where they also slept on cots.
Rising sophomore Olivia Paige, who is BCVS assistant director of campus community relations, organized the trip.
"It's something that you are really never going to forget or get over. I think as a volunteer I hope that I never forget about this, but that I can use it to kind of keep me going and maybe do other work with disasters like this," Paige said. "It feels great to know you are helping and meet the people that you are impacting, but overall at the end of the day it's a good feeling."
When Berry Associate Professor of Psychology Susan Conradsen heard about the trip she knew right away that she wanted to be involved.
"I knew it was going to be rewarding and I knew that it was going to be emotional; I didn't realize how awesome it was going to be to work with this group of people," Conradsen said. "It has been very humbling and it's made me really realize how life is so precious and so fragile."
Rising junior Taylor Norton, a Brentwood, Tenn. native, saw the devastation on the news and knew this was an opportunity where he could make a difference in the lives of the people in Oklahoma.
"It has been eye opening; I've learned a lot and it's been kind of strange to see a place in the heartland of the United States look like a war zone," Norton said.
Alex Middleton, Berry College interactive and social media specialist, said that the magnitude of the damage was overwhelming.
"At first, I wasn't sure how much we were helping. The damage was just so immense and constant. I felt overwhelmed. But then I took a step back and understood that we were a part of something much bigger than any of us," Middleton said.
To learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference in the Rome community visit the Berry College Volunteer Services website http://www.berry.edu/service/Story by Student Public Relations Assistant Brittni Trollinger