Thursday September 29, 2005

Simply Put, I Feel I Can Help

Approximately 50 University of Dayton students, faculty and staff will make a 1,600-mile round-trip journey by bus to Mississippi Oct. 7-11 to help the Catholic diocese of Biloxi with hurricane clean-up efforts.

Approximately 50 University of Dayton students, faculty and staff will make a 1,600-mile round-trip journey by bus to Mississippi Oct. 7-11 to help the Catholic diocese of Biloxi with hurricane clean-up efforts.

"Simply put, I feel that I can help," said Katie Schoenenberger, an instructor of geology. "I can offer necessary supplies and a weekend of hard work. If, in addition to monetary donations, Americans choose to make the gesture of donating time, this situation will not only improve, but improve faster."

The trip, organized by UD's Center for Social Concern during midterm break, is the third Gulf Coast outreach effort from campus. A group of 10 students and two teachers from the Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) will travel to hurricane-ravaged Pascagoula, Miss., to help with clean-up efforts Oct. 5-9. DECA is a Dayton public high school on UD's campus. Also during the midterm break, 25 students from the UD chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ will travel to Gulfport, Miss., to help with clean-up efforts. The students will be taking a load of such supplies as tools and rakes to donate to Gulfport residents. Those interested in donating supplies should contact Rachel Bade at (937) 627-5774.

Within the diocese of Biloxi, at least 10 churches were destroyed or gutted, and six schools were destroyed, according to statistics on the diocese's Web site. Of 171,000 homes in the coastal counties, only 16,000 were reportedly unaffected by Hurricane Katrina.

"The damage has been very, very significant," said Nick Cardilino, director of the Center for Social Concern. Unlike New Orleans, the people in Biloxi have been virtually ignored. You have an immense amount of rural poverty, and the diocese is facing problems with some of its schools and churches being wiped out to the ground. It's still minute by minute, hour by hour, for many people."

Leslie Cebula said her faith is motivating her to give up her midterm break to help in the Biloxi area.

"The news can only show me so much but can't show me it all. I want to see everything I can see, be as close to the people affected most and give them all I am able to offer," said the senior communication/broadcasting major from Wilmington, Pa. "I want to reflect on my faith while I'm there -- and what it means to be a Christian."

Schoenenberger is driven both by the desire to serve and to get a firsthand look at the destructive force of hurricanes. "I have spent years teaching to students the genesis and effects of hurricanes. I believe that my background, however, lacks a true sense of the impact on human life and infrastructure," she said. "The true cost of recovery is a significant part of the story that is rarely covered with respect to natural disasters."

The University of Dayton is granting up to three weeks of paid leave to faculty and staff volunteering for organized hurricane relief efforts and has offered free tuition for one semester to Gulf Coast residents enrolled at universities in the region. UD enrolled six displaced students this fall. Jaci Jackson, assistant chief information officer for customer relations and director of technology support services, is volunteering for Red Cross relief work in the Gulf Coast.

"I have a strong passion just to help," she said. " I'm a Southern girl from a small town in Georgia, and, therefore, am very concerned that the small towns may be lost in the big picture."

University of Dayton students have raised more than $9,000 for the American Red Cross and continue to sell $10 red T-shirts during lunch as part of an ongoing fundraising drive. The staff in the president's office this week shipped boxes of school supplies to a UD graduate who's coordinating a collection for evacuees in Houston. The Center for Social Concern organized a donation drive for a transfer student from Southern Mississippi University whose family moved to Dayton and needed household items.

Upcoming hurricane-related events include:

* Phi Sigma Tau, UD's Philosophy Honor Society, will sponsor a student forum on Hurricane Katrina from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Sears Recital Hall in the Jesse Philips Humanities Center. Students with perspectives on philosophy, economics, political science, religious studies, civil engineering and social justice will discuss the lessons to be learned from the hurricane and its aftermath. It's free and open to the public.

* University of Dayton chef Lisa Davis, who moonlights at the House of Bread, will cook lunch at the local soup kitchen Oct. 10-11 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The House of Bread, 9 Orth Ave., is seeking donations and volunteers. Members of UD's Sigma Nu Fraternity Kappa Iota Chapter will assist as volunteers at the Monday, Oct. 10, lunch. For more information or to volunteer, call the House of Bread at (937) 226-1520 or The Foodbank at (937) 461-0265, ext. 16.

For more on hurricane relief efforts on campus, click here.

Contact Nick Cardilino at (937) 229-2576.