October 11, 2005
There are signs of hope that Henry and Ester, Louisiana–two South Louisiana communities hard hit by Hurricane Rita–are picking up the pieces and putting them back together.
In mid-October, Southern Mutual Help Association sponsored 24 volunteers from Colgate University, who flew from Hamilton, New York, at their own expense to help with the clean-up efforts.
One wish of the residents of Henry was to get the church bell in their little church to ring once again. When the students and local children of the community accomplished this, everyone jumped for joy.
During their 5-day stay in Louisiana, the Colgate students concentrated on cleaning two churches and three homes. Chris Nolte, one of the volunteers, talks of his memories of the places he helped clean up. “It is one thing to see the devastation on television. It is completely another to meet these individuals whose homes have been destroyed… their personal pictures, music CDs… their lives strewn across a muddy floor.”
Colgate University is the first of many to come down as part of SMHA’s Rural Recovery Task Force. In response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, SMHA has created a hands-on Rural Recovery Task Force to help rural communities get back on their feet.