Students Provide Hurricane Relief
After Category 4 Hurricane Ian decimated homes and businesses Florida’s west coast, Palm Beach Atlantic students and staff quickly mobilized to help.
In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Madeline Marie Nettles, a senior majoring in biblical studies, dedicated a weekend to helping those in need. Nettles and others drove two and a half hours to Pine Island, where they went door to door asking people how they could help. Kaelin Denui and Christiane Anton, PBA juniors and small business owners, raised more than $1,000 dollars by selling their merchandise, with all profits going toward food, water and supplies. They provided for both physical and spiritual needs by sharing the gospel and praying for people.
Emily Moses, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, rose at 4 a.m. to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse in North Fort Myers. She worked with people from across the state, making damaged homes contractor-ready by ripping out damaged wallboards, packing valuables, removing flooring and cleaning away debris.
Moses said it was devastating to see such severe damage just two hours away from her home in West Palm. Houses were washed away, and debris was scattered everywhere around the collapsed buildings dotting the coast.
Workship Director Nathan Chau led a team of seven PBA students who served with Samaritan’s Purse in Fort Myers over their fall break. For such an outreach, Chau encourages students to see the long-term picture, if, perhaps, they think they’re not needed or won’t make a difference. Rebuilding Fort Myers will take years.
“You are planting a seed without getting to see the plant grow,” Chau said. “You are going to plant your seed and take the day to water it, and eventually that plant will bloom, even if you are not around to see it.”
Christy Anderson signed up for the Workship trip the day the call for hurricane relief volunteers went out, despite having already earned her requisite volunteer hours for the semester.
“I wanted to do something productive with my fall break. I saw the need, and I thought I could definitely help,” said Anderson, of Ponte Vedra Beach.
During her three days in Fort Myers, Anderson tarped a roof, cleared mangled tin from a mobile home roof, organized a woman’s garage and helped a man in a wheelchair by clearing the debris in his house.
Other women volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse prayed and encouraged Anderson when she was struggling, she said.
“I was there to help other people, but they were helping me emotionally,” Anderson said.
PBA students came alongside one woman who had a tough time discarding items from the damaged home where she grew up and is now raising her family.
“That was all her memories,” said Makenna Welch, a sophomore studying zoology.
Sophomore James Marhee said the volunteers had the opportunity to “just speak with the people and hear their stories.” The people were grateful to the volunteers for taking the time to listen, he said.
At the conclusion of each project, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers present homeowners with a Bible and pray with them, Mhree said. Of Samaritan’s Purse, Marhee said, “The people that volunteer for that organization genuinely care about the people they are helping.”
Photo 1: Students volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse on a Workship trip to provide relief to those in Fort Myers who were affected by Hurricane Ian.
Photo 2: PBA students helped clear vegetation taken down by Hurricane Ian.
Photo 3: Workship students pose for a group photo with a man whose house they helped clear so that he could move about more easily in his wheelchair.