Students rebuild lives over Fall Break

As the sun catches the peak of Clark's Mountain in Missouri, an image at the base of the mountain appears. A part of the Ozarks Foothill region, Piedmont, literally translated to mean "foot of the mountain," comes into view.

Eight hours away from the campus in Huntington, Ind., a group of students, accompanied by faculty members, will work to provide disaster relief to the small town. The students have partnered with World Renew Disaster Response Services for the trip, and are being housed by the First Baptist Church for their stay from Oct. 11-15.

A town of fewer than 2,000 residents, Piedmont is not a burgeoning metropolis, but this is why Friesen Center volunteer coordinator, Jacob Cross, chose the town for the trip. The area is prone to natural disasters, namely flooding from the hills and mountains nearby. Areas in the town remain in need of repair from floods from numerous years ago.

"Jesus went out to those that the world overlooked," Cross said. "We wanted to follow in his example and take a trip to a place that most people have forgotten. We want to show those people that God still cares, that people still want to help."

The team will engage in traditional disaster relief practices, like construction projects, cleaning and replanting yards, and ministering to those who may need food and care from the disaster. Nightly devotions and prayer services will take place with each team member getting the opportunity to grow in their own faith and leadership abilities.

Donations will be raised for and given to the church hosting the team, not only as a thank you, but to equip the church to carry on the efforts that the students are beginning.

This is the first service trip (of four for this year) for the newly renamed Friesen Center for Volunteer Services, formerly the Joe Mertz Center. All the trips will have a focus similar to that of this trip: Serve those that the world has forgotten.

"Often disaster relief has a rush of help immediately after a disaster, but it takes years to rebuild a community, and we are happy and excited to be a part of that process," said Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry for Huntington University. "Fall break is a great opportunity to go in a mission trip for a short time and low cost."