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A semester of building houses, building hope

“Anyone can do so much.”

This is the idea behind Hannah Young’s experience in Mississippi. Young worked with Katrina relief in Pass Christian, but it was not a brief trip to see what she could be exposed to.

At an on-campus chapel at the beginning of her sophomore year at Eastern, Young encountered a team of students who spent time over the summer assisting in the effort to relieve the damage left by Katrina.

Young said she immediately wanted to help the hurting people of the southern United States. So when she heard of the follow-up trip that the school was taking, she was eager to be a part of the ministry.

She then spent the end of her winter break in Pass Christian, Mississippi with a team of students from Eastern, and for her, the experience was life changing.

Arriving home one week before she had to return to school for the spring semester, Hannah said she felt a strong connection to the people and places that she encountered throughout her time in Mississippi, so much so, that she felt called back.

When she told her parents of her desire to return, their response was surprisingly supportive. So with one week until classes were to start again, she decided to take a semester off and spend time once again with the people still hurting as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Hannah had already purchased her books, scheduled her classes and was even preparing to enter the second semester of her RA position, but she said she felt ready to do something bold. So she did. She returned to Pass Christian and entered into a supervisor role along with 10 other volunteers.

Throughout their time in Mississippi, Hannah and her team of leaders housed an average of 400 to 700 volunteers every week. Living out of a hurricane-torn library, she spent her days moving from site to site, about six houses every week, and making sure that everything was running smoothly.

The volunteers entered into the two-part process of repairing houses. The first was gutting, which involves taking everything out of the house and disposing of it. “This,” Hannah said, “was the fun part.” Next came the rebuilding, a combination of everyone’s time and effort being utilized on every level.

This process of new groups coming in and destroyed homes being restored continued week after week during her time there, and the process turned out to be more rewarding that she ever thought it could have been.

“I adopted a house and saw it from start to finish. Knowing that I worked on this house and saw it at the beginning and at its complete phase is a real blessing,” she said.

Unfortunately for Young, returning home was not as much of a blessing initially. “I was angry when I came back and saw how much I have, but I had to turn around and be thankful for it, knowing that they could be taken away from me at any minute, she said.

During her time in Mississippi, Hannah was with people who had lost everything. She was a huge part of helping people rebuild their lives.

“God calls us to take care of the poor out of willingness,” Hannah remarked. “It’s not just about putting another notch in our salvation belt.”

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