Baylor service leaders discuss how to help with Hurricane Michael relief efforts

Students help with relief efforts from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Holly Tate

By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer

Baylor’s departments of Spiritual Life and Community Engagement and Service seek to provide resources for students to best assist those impacted by recent storms in the United States and around the world.

Category 4 storm Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle region and areas of Georgia and the Carolinas Oct. 10, causing deaths of over 30 people and damaging thousands of homes and buildings. Hurricane Florence also had a severe impact on North and South Carolina in September.

Doriann Beverly, interim senior coordinator for community service, encouraged students to become informed about the storm and stay alert for service and relief opportunities to come.

“In general, it’s very important to stay informed by paying attention to the news and announcements in your area,” Beverly said. “We post opportunities like collection drives, mission trips and calls for volunteers on Connect as they occur on campus or with our service partners. Over the coming weeks and months, we anticipate that organizations will be organizing their own relief efforts to assist those affected by hurricanes, so we’ll be promoting those events on our website and Connect.”

Beverly said students should also visit the Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts section of the Baylor Community Engagement and Service website, which includes links to groups like American Red Cross and World Hope International that are collecting donations to be directly donated to those affected.

Holly Tate, assistant director for student engagement in missions, also believes that the best way to contribute right now is by looking for ways to directly donate to communities hit by the storm, as well as to keep a prayerful mindset.

“Thinking about where we are in proximity to Michael, drives and trips can be difficult right now. It’s important to think about how you can financially support groups that are on the ground,” Tate said. “At this point in the rebuilding process, that is the most helpful. As things start to calm down and people begin to realize what the actual community needs are, there will be additional ways to help.”

Tate was heavily involved in Baylor’s relief efforts toward Hurricane Harvey last year, even leading a spring break service trip down to local communities in the Houston area. She encourages students to remember that there are many still experiencing the effects of Hurricane Harvey and Maria, which struck Puerto Rico last year.

“We actually have a fall break group going down to Rockport since there are still things that need to be done there,” Tate said. “We’re also doing more in Puerto Rico this spring break. For those communities, they still feel Harvey and Maria. Even though other storms have come, many people are still rebuilding their lives from last year, and that’s important to remember.”

Donations in Chapel last year raised $10,000 for Hurricane Harvey, where funds went directly to buying new appliances for people who lost much of what they owned in the storm.

“There was a man who lived in the community we helped who was an artist, and his home was flooded so he lost a lot of his artwork and photos,” Tate said. “He was afraid when relief efforts came that groups would work around him since he was an immigrant and wasn’t Christian. Baylor was the first group he met, and we treated him with grace and hospitality. Last spring, we turned the funds raised into appliances for homeowners — we got him a new fridge, and he had no idea. It was a great moment and led to true community.”

Tate said she enjoys how the Harvey trips allowed students to work alongside the homeowners and interact with them and advises students interested in serving a particular community to contact the missions department, which can offer resources and help with organization.

Beverly and Tate both encourage students looking to offer help or to serve their community to check out Baylor programs like Urban Missions, Community Service and Engagement and Global Missions.

“Serving others is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences one can have — there are so many ways to serve in your community and engage with others,” Beverly said. “We have partnerships with over 80 non-profit agencies in the community, so we can help you match your passion to serve with the ideal agency or population. All you need to do is take the first step, and we’ll be glad to meet you.”