Twenty-seven Wheeling Jesuit University students, faculty and alumni spent Wednesday, July 13, helping two families in Clendenin, W.Va., begin to rebuild following the devastating flooding that took place a month ago.
Like so many others from across the state and country, Wheeling Jesuit University lent a hand to help residents who were impacted by recent flooding.
“This is personal for us because the flooding affected not only our state, but many of our friends and family have been impacted by this tragedy. It’s part of our mission to help those in need, and we wanted to be there to help our sisters and brothers as they begin the task of rebuilding their lives,” said Beth Collins, director of the Appalachian Institute.
Through its Clifford M. Lewis, S.J. Appalachian Institute and the Service for Social Action Center (SSAC), Collins and Colleen Ryan Mayrand, SSAC director, coordinated the trip and are planning future trips around the state – trips that will include WJU students, employees and alumni, as well as enlisting the aid of outside groups from Jesuit school partners.
“Following the flooding, Bishop Bransfield called on all West Virginians to not only pray for all those affected, but to help. The WJU community followed the Bishop’s call to action and plan to continue to serve our neighbors with more service trips in the future,” said WJU President, Rev. James Fleming, S.J.
During Wednesday’s service, the WJU volunteers spent the day helping two families. At the first house, the group tore up flooring and removed tile and walls. Three students were in a crawl space tearing out insulation and plastic pipes.
Gabbie Marcum, a 2016 graduate and Huntington native, said, “Helping others is what the people of West Virginia and Wheeling Jesuit are about. West Virginia and WJU taught me how important community is. These are my neighbors and I needed to be here to help them.”
The son of the homeowner, Jeff, said his parents were in their 80s and were overwhelmed by the amount of destruction to their home. He said the flood waters rose to about six feet inside the one-story house.
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“They just didn’t know where to even start (with cleaning and rebuilding). The work that your students and employees are doing is a great help to them. We just don’t even know how to say thank you,” Jeff said.
At a second house, the group worked to remove mud that covered the yard.
Ralph Seward, a WJU employee said the work at the second house “was a lot of hard work and sweat. We had a great group, who worked hard all day.”
The service trip to Clendenin was a first for student Sloane Glover. The senior said she was heartbroken when she saw how the flooding had devastated the southern part of the state.
“West Virginia holds a special place in my heart and I knew I needed to go on this trip. I was able to help, talk to and pray with flood victims, and meet a lot of other volunteers that were from all over the country. It really opened my eyes to all the good there is in this country after the recent tragedies happening all over the United States,” Glover said.
Sunnie English, an employee at WJU’s English Language Institute, was part of the service trip also.
“At Wheeling Jesuit, our mission calls us to be men and women for others. This flooding has caused so much damage and suffering. This was my chance to help out two families – help them in a small way. This day helped me realize there is a lot of good happening in the midst of so much devastation.”
Collins said that in addition to Wednesday’s group, WJU PT students and faculty were in Richwood, W. Va., providing medical service. The Appalachian Institute also is coordinating service trips with partners at Jesuit high schools across the country.
She noted that residents can help the flood victims by making donations through Catholic Charities West Virginia at catholiccharitieswv.org.