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By Laura Sikes
LONG ISLAND, N.Y. – Crawling underneath houses to put in insulation,
mudding and sanding dry wall and installing a fence are not typical spring
break distractions. But for college students Makayla Campbell and Amber Wilcox those
were the jobs they tackled with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR)
volunteers on Long Island, N. Y., to help homeowners affected by Hurricane
Both girls joined their Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) team of 18
students on spring break from Eastern Kentucky University of Richmond, Ky. For
most of the team, including sophomore Campbell and senior Wilcox, it was their
first Disaster Relief ministry experience.
The students traded their spring vacations for 12-hour workdays and
paid $250 each for the week to go and serve others. Their day began with breakfast
at 6:30 a.m. and was followed by devotion and prayer time before the students
divided into three work groups for job site assignments.
They worked on homes usually until 4 or 5 p.m. and returned for
dinner at 6 p.m. to Sandy Rebuild’s base at the New York Institute of Technology
in Central Islip, N.Y. The university has housed SBDR volunteers in its
dormitories since January 2014.
The week was a new experience and an opportunity to grow in her
faith, said Campbell. By week’s end the 19-year-old from Monticello, Ky., had
worked on three homes that were damaged by Sandy. By the end of the first day she
and the entire BCM team had dismantled an old fence and installed a new one for
“Physically, the job was hard and it was super cold outside,” said
Campbell. “But others [team members] helped lift me up spiritually. We were
thankful we finished the fence by the next morning and it was good to see the
homeowner so happy with it.”
On the second day, the group split into smaller work teams and
Campbell and Wilcox went with their group to install insulation under a home in
Long Beach, N.Y.
“All that sand from underneath the house was everywhere,” said
Wilcox, 21. Through the week, Wilcox, from Richmond, Ky., said that it was a
challenge for her not knowing what the jobs would be day to day. For the next
two days, the students joined other teammates to sand walls and strip wallpaper
in a home of an elderly widower in Massapequa, N.Y.
Through the hard work, Campbell and Wilcox, who were prayer
partners for the week, became close friends and agreed that they would like to
do more mission trips.
“The most rewarding part was everybody working together as a team
and seeing what we could accomplish by the end of the day. Seeing how happy it
made the homeowners was a real blessing,” said Campbell.
Jeff Prousser, BCM director for Eastern Kentucky University, who served
with students, said the work was “infectious” for the students.
“It is so powerful, when you actually go and serve. It makes Scripture
come to life,” said Prousser.
During a morning devotion, BCM intern Robbie Munafo encouraged the
students to stay flexible and connected to each other.
“As a team we bonded and came together,” said Munafo.
Munafo worked with his group at a home for three days in Ronkonkoma,
N.Y., with SBDR crew chief David Hampton. The team hung sheetrock, mudded,
sanded and painted as they befriended homeowner Kathy Jenness and her pet, a pot-belly
pig named “Oinkey,” that the students called “Link.”
“I am so thankful for the students’ work. It’s coming along,” said
Jenness. Her home was struck by a tree and had wind and water damage from the
Hampton, a member of Immanuel Baptist in Corbin, Ky., has served
with SBDR 11 times since Sandy, including four weeks in March. He says he
enjoys the students and likes the way they work and interact with the
homeowners. The volunteer says he always reminds them why they are here at the
start of each day.
“I ask them to always remember that our primary focus here is not
for the physical work but to witness for Jesus,” said Hampton. “Everything we
do physically for the people is just a side thing or a bonus.”
In March, 305 college students, and other volunteers, provided 10,696
volunteer hours. They came from 17 states including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
“It is great to watch the cross-generational interaction between
the students and the traditional Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers
who are much older,” said Fritz Wilson,
executive director for Disaster Relief at the North American Mission
Board. “There is a unique family bond formed between them because they are
coming together to serve others by living out the gospel.”
Sandy Rebuild Project Coordinator Bill Johnson said the growing
need is for volunteers skilled in drywall, insulation, sheetrock finishing and
“The students are dedicated and focused, and many have returned to
work two and three times,” said Johnson. “They closed out 11 jobs in March. The
primary need is for skilled construction crew leaders for the volunteers who
are committed for the rest of spring and into August when the work will wind
down,” he said.
For information about Sandy Rebuild, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 770-410-6075.
to SBDR relief contact your state Baptist convention or visit donations.namb.net/dr-donations.
For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O.
Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to
major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of
which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained
volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw,
mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water
purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three
largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States,
along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Laura Sikes writes for the
North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 5/6/2015 1:49:04 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2015 North American Mission Board, SBC