By Luke Fawcett '08
Hurricane Katrina left in its wake an unparalleled amount of destruction that shocked America. People across the country continue to generously contribute to the relief effort, and the Randolph-Macon community is no exception. R-MC offered free tuition and room for the Fall Semester 2005 to students displaced by the hurricane; 10 students accepted and one student decided to continue at R-MC this past spring. Numerous fundraising activities, including a benefit concert, have been held to raise money to help families affected by the disaster. Students also volunteered their time to gather supplies and assemble relief kits.
In addition, many Yellow Jackets traveled to the Gulf Coast to aid in the cleanup. Faculty and staff members used their vacation time to volunteer; 22 students headed to Louisiana to do relief work as an alternative spring break trip. Also, 29 students and three faculty members traveled to New Orleans for two weeks as part of a J-term service-learning class. Serving under the auspices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, this team gutted 15 homes, removed 150 tons of trash and contributed $42,000 worth of labor.
On other outreach fronts, 14 students spent spring break in Cordele, Georgia, building a Habitat for Humanity home. Undoubtedly, these numerous and dedicated relief efforts made a lasting impact, both on the lives of those helped and on the hearts of the volunteers.
“The spirits of those people we touched have been changed for the better, and so, I suspect, have ours,” said interim dean of the college and physics professor Bill Franz about his experience with the New Orleans J-term trip. “We have made friendships that never would have happened under ‘normal’ circumstances. These friendships cross boundaries of race and class and ethnicity. We will be separated shortly by more than a thousand miles, but we will be but a few heartbeats away for a long time.”