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Hurricane Victims Remain Top of Mind for NCCU Students

Instead of relaxing on sandy beaches or catching up on sleep, more than 30 North Carolina Central University (NCCU) students traveled to Burgaw, N.C., during spring break to volunteer and assist the Baptists on Mission Warehouse with rebuilding efforts for residents affected by hurricanes Florence and Matthew.

Student volunteers worked in and around homes, local churches and businesses in the Pender County town to assist with debris removal from properties, removal of dilapidated furnishing from homes and offices, and restoration of a historic church.

Among the student volunteers were Asya Coles, Issa Smith and Malcom Brown. Greenville, N.C., native, Asya Coles felt called to assist the county located a few hours from her hometown.

“The moment I stepped off the bus and saw the damage, I understood the impact that this storm had on the community and I realized that this could have easily been my family and I suffering,” said Coles, a sophomore social work major.

“When I began to hear the stories of those affected and began interacting with the residents, I was determined that no matter the task that I was given. I just wanted to be a part of helping the community get back into their homes.”

Baptists on Mission is a Christian-based organization with volunteers serving throughout the state. Raleigh native and junior public health major Smith shared similar sentiments as the other volunteers and seized the opportunity to serve.

“I didn't have any plans for spring break, so I thought it would be best to serve my home state,” said Smith, who assisted with planning the trip and spreading the word to students.

The trip arranged by NCCU’s Office of Community Engagement and Service included staff volunteers who accompanied the students. Ruby Messick, the office’s assistant director, was proud that students chose to spend their spring break serving others.

“I am truly grateful and proud of the interest that our students showed in reaching out to help the community,” Messick said. “I enjoyed serving with them and each night we reflected on our work and had discussions about what it means to lose everything. This experience was humbling.”

The group hopes that their volunteer work reignites the public’s morale to help those still suffering and displaced on the coast.

“People don’t realize the impact that the smallest gestures have. In inland North Carolina, it seems as if we’ve moved on, but other areas are still suffering from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence,” said Brown a junior business administration major from Tacoma, Wash.

“With our trip to Pender County, I believe that morale has been boosted and the attention can be brought back into the eye of the greater public.”

Published: Tuesday, May 07, 2019
by Assistant Director, Ruby S Messick
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