Good Will, Volunteerism Theme of Southeast Students’ Spring Break


Two students operating an electric drill

Southeast students, in connection with Habitat for Humanity, help build homes during spring break for the 2005 tornado victims in the New Haven Subdivision in Evansville, Ind.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 2, 2008 — While most students look forward to spring break as a week of rest, relaxation, and fun in the sun, 31 Southeast Missouri State University students traveled to two destinations last month, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

One group of students embarked on an adventure to Evansville, Ind., where they worked with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for the 2005 tornado victims in the New Haven Subdivision. The other group of students traveled to Caretta, W.V., to work with Big Creek People in Action. While in Caretta, the students focused on connecting with the community through service projects, presentations to high school students, and visiting with local musicians.

While in both locations, students were able to work with volunteers, and project managers from each organization taught them many lessons about construction — whether it was the correct way to hammer (four different ways), how to properly lay a sub floor or how to raise the second level of a house to put in new support beams on the first floor, said Leslie Barger, Vandiver Hall director.

“These men were very gracious and made the projects fun to work on,” Barger said.

While in Evansville, the students toured an area damaged by an F4 tornado in 2005. Aimee Haas, an employee of Habitat and a local that experienced the aftermath of that night, led the tour. On the tour, the students saw a trailer park that was severely damaged and where about 22 lives were lost that night in November 2005.

“The students were definitely impacted by this tour and saw why they were working on the houses in the subdivision,” Barger said.

In addition to putting in some hard work that week, two Southeast students, Amber Hill of Galatia, Ill., and Camille Ottesen of Cape Girardeau, ended up with summer internships with the Habitat for Humanity of Evansville.

Barger said that “was really neat to see happen.”

The students in Caretta, were encouraged to become immersed in the culture of the McDowell County community. The students visited a functional coal mine in Caretta, learned how to flat foot dance from local musicians, and visited with 10th grade students from Big Creek High School to learn about their dreams and aspirations for the future, said Kerry Wallaert, Towers East Hall director and coordinator of the alternative spring break trips.The students met with the group’s volunteer coordinator from Big Creek People in Action, Marsha Timpson, who shared stories about the community’s past, present, and future.

“The students were able to visit different hollows within the county, which gave them an idea of what every day life was like for the residents of this community,” she said.

After returning to campus, the two groups of students met to share stories and start collectively working on building a student organization to continue to support these areas and the Cape Girardeau community. Wallaert said the 31 students felt empowered to continue to serve these areas, based on the connections that they made with individuals of the community.

“While our students made a small mark on the communities they served, the communities left a large impact on our students,” she said.

Evansville participants were Victoria Adams of Jackson, Mo., Andrea Branum of Albion, Ill., Robert Brockschmidt of St. Louis, Caitlin Brown of Harrisonville, Mo., Kristin Buck of St. Louis, Janet Corcoran of Springfield, Ill., Ashley Duerst of St. Louis, Stephanie Ficken of St. Louis, Billy Garrett of Florissant, Mo., Kerstine Helle of St. Louis, Hill, Sara Kopp of Washington, Mo., Ottesen, Jennifer Sutterer of Perryville, Mo., Josh Welch of St. Louis, and Carrie Wideman of Warrenton, Mo., with advisors Barger and Kevin McMeel, instructor of industrial and engineering technology.

Caretta participants were Heather Hayes of Eureka, Mo., Megan Holst of Festus, Mo., Megan Robinson of Fenton, Mo., Zachary Bridgewater of Festus, Mo., Charles Jones of Kansas City, Mo., Danielle Czerniewski of Imperial, Mo., Jeri Tomlin of Florissant, Mo., Adam Hopkins of St. Louis, Bruce Wallace of St. Louis, Ashleigh Day of Hazelwood, Mo., Mackenzie Jones of Marble Hill, Mo., Jessi Lynn Cochran of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Schylon Lane of Caruthersville, Mo., with advisors Nikki Ciarlette, Myers and Cheney hall director, and Wallaert.

 Southeast students worked with Habitat for Humanity during spring break in Evansville, Ind.

 Southeast students traveled to Caretta, W.V., during spring break to work with Big Creek People in Action.