Jennings sees hope despite devastation

Carrying out moldy refrigerators, tearing down houses with sledgehammers and crowbars, and sleeping on cots are activities usually far-removed from an ideal vacation agenda. But this is how Adams State College student, Megan Jennings, spent her week.

Jennings spent Spring Break 2006 in Chalmette, Louisiana. While she was there she helped clean up the houses in the area that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Jennings volunteered with an organization called Hilltop Rescue.

The trip began with a 22 hour drive. When she arrived, she said immediately noticed the devastation within the community.

"As we ducked in and out of rubbish piles that used to be homes, we saw cars on top of each other, foundations with nothing on them, and telephone poles in tangles on the ground," Jennings said.

The day after she arrived, Jennings said volunteers began the process of mucking.

"We would open doors to these houses and every possession that had once made up someone's life was strewn around the house and lying in about six inches of sludge," she said. "There were so many belongings at each house, and every one of them ruined."

Although many people within the community lost everything, Jennings said she felt a sense of hope radiating from them.

"It was so hard to look into the eyes of the homeowners we were working for," she said. "There was so much pain in them. But where there was suffering, there was also something more powerful: hope."

Jennings said she learned a very valuable lesson from her trip. The hope and perseverance of the homeowners encouraged her to make the most of each day and to take pride in her accomplishments.

"That lesson alone is worth all the hard work and sore muscles, all the bug bites and bruises, all the cold showers and early mornings, and definitely worth the 22 hour and fifteen minute drive," she said.