Students Volunteer Over Fall Break To Help Those In Need After Tornado Hits Waverly Virginia

by Nia Pettiford

Over fall break, six Ferrum students and two instructors volunteered their time in Waverly, Virginia. Waverly was hit by a deadly tornado in February that did tremendous damage to the entire community. With coordination from Dean of Chapel Jan Nicholson-Angles, the work team volunteered with the Virginia United Methodist Volunteers in Mission to help restore the community.

The team worked on a house which belonged to single mother Trenika Stringfield and her two daughters. She lost her two year old son, brother and fiancé in the tornado within five minutes. Team member Jesse Delph said, “Getting to know Trenika’s story was my favorite part. It was amazing to listen to the experience she went through and be able to see her keep pushing through with the faith of God every day.” Trenika works two jobs and aspires to be a nurse. Though the loss was great, the family continues to stay strong. Senior Katie Delph said, “It was an amazing experience to know that a family who was severely distraught by a tornado has the high hopes and spirits that this family does.”

After the tornado, Stringfield bought the house so her family could rebuild it. The house needed much renovation. The team mainly worked on the roof. Because of severe water damage and rot, the team had to completely tear the roof apart and put it back together. “The work was hard, but I couldn’t stop because I had to do as much as I could for this family”, said Casey Hawkins, “compared to the pain and suffering they had been through, a couple of blisters and splinters meant nothing.”

Even though the team gave a lot, they all said they gained a lot as well. “The time I spent in Waverly was the first time in a long time that I felt useful”, said Mark Kellam. “During the trip, all of the troubles, distractions and dreams that normally occupy my mind disappeared; I had been set free. We were only there for a few short days, yet the church we stayed in was home and we were family. I wish we had more time. The team was great and I would work with {them} again in a heartbeat.”

Katie Delph perfectly captured the experience in one sentence: “This trip gave an emphasis to the phrase ‘every little bit helps’”.

The team’s accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without Virginia United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. There is always room for donations to help the next family that suffers a disaster.

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