Three trips, three groups, one purpose

Since Katrina hit in August of 2005, at least three trips involving Eastern students have gone down south to help the residents there.

Trip 1:

Where: Pass Christian, Mississippi

Date: End of September 2005.

Organizers: College students who attended the Bridge, Calvary Fellowship Church’s evening service for college students.

The people:

Six Eastern students joined the group from CFC and from James Madison University in Virginia:. They were senior Ryan Cobb, senior Brent Freshwater, ’06 alum Katie Castle, senior Laura Stafford, ’06 alum Amy Petrilla, senior Ashlie Nissly, senior Melissa Sohl, junior Christie Davis, and ’06 alum Corey Gill, according to Cobb.

The accommodations:

According to Sohl, they pitched tents on the lot of the ruined Trinity Church in Pass Christian. According to Cobb, that spot was the only sign of life in the area.

The devastation:

“Houses were splattered everywhere,” Cobb said. “Cars were flipped over. Everything was desolate.”

The work:

They cleaned out a graveyard that had become filled with debris from the storm, according to Cobb and Sohl.

The group, also divided into smaller groups of 5-10 people, cleaned out backyards and gutted houses, according to Cobb.


“You didn’t expect a town in America to be that destroyed,” Sohl said.

“As you meet people who experienced the hurricane, their attitudes are totally different,” Cobb said. “They’re thankful that helping hands were coming down, that they were alive.”

Trip 2:

Where: New Orleans

Date: January 3-15, 2006

Organizers: The trip’s agenda and accommodations were set by the Red Cross. The Eastern students heard about the trip through junior Nick O’Ryon, whose father works at the national Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D. C. and asked O’Ryon to get a group together.

The people:

Senior Dan Leonard, junior David Rothwell, junior Kate Stone, junior Nick O’Ryon, junior Brandon Hoover, and junior Louis Palazzo.

The accommodations:

The group stayed in shelters and hotels in the New Orleans area, according to Rothwell and Palazzo.

The devastation:

“In the 9th Ward, people weren’t working on their houses because it wasn’t worth it,” Palazzo said.

The work:

The group worked in two areas, the 9th Ward in New Orleans and Lake Charles, according to Rothwell and Palazzo.

In New Orleans, the group drove trucks to each street and distributed supplies to the residents, or drove emergency response vehicles to give out hot meals.


“Kate Stone and I were listening to the inspiration station. A song came on and it was a really good rendition of Psalm 23, and we listened to that driving through the worst part of the devastation, the 9th Ward. It was so powerful to hear that, to know that God is still God,” Palazzo said.

Trip 3:

Where: Pass Christian

Date: January 6-14, 2006

Organizers: Junior Christie Davis in conjunction with Andy Horvath. The trip was sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ.

The people:

Junior Katie Brown, ’06 alum Katie Castle, junior Christie Davis, junior Cori Davis, Michael Davis (dad), sophomore Kelly Garland, junior Rebecca Hewes, junior Carrie Kline, junior Ann McNeal, ’06 alum Amy Petrilla, sophomore Jason Petrilla, sophomore Mallory Rosensteel, junior Alicia Rutter, senior Melissa Sohl, William Sohl (dad), sophomore Kara Stang, junior Hannah Young.

The work:

They worked in God’s Katrina Kitchen, which served food to over 1,000 volunteers every day. They also cleaned up a yard, took down drywall, and put it up, according to team members.

The devastation:

“It looked like it had just been hit,” McNeal said.


“I’ll think, ‘These people don’t have anything and I’m complaining about my iPod,” Davis said.

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