Chris and Rachel Riley will join Hillcrest Church of Christ university minister Justin Hatfield to lead a mission trip during spring break to Beaumont to help those still in need after Hurricane Harvey.
During the trip, volunteers will work primarily on homes that have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. Hatfield said they will be going into homes that haven’t been entered since they were flooded in August and completely cleaning them out, salvaging what belongings they can for the homeowners and stripping carpet, sheetrock and anything else that could be growing mold. This will allow the houses a chance to air out for future rebuilding.
The volunteers will also work on homes that have already been cleaned out and stripped. In these homes they will start by putting in insulation and sheetrock, Hatfield said, so homeowners can start rebuilding. Hatfield said they may also do debris cleanup and bring Lowes and Walmart gift cards to help the homeowners with refurnishing.
Hatfield said Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, and his wife, Rachel Riley, instructor of psychology, have ties to the Beaumont area. Hatfield lead a trip to Beaumont over fall break in 2017 with 50 students and 10 sponsors through Hillcrest. During that short trip, they were able to work on 12 different houses.
“There is still so much left to be done,” Hatfield said.
Around 80,000 homes in the Beaumont area still need help. Hatfield said the people applying for help are generally those who can’t do the work themselves for various reasons, such as age or disabilities, and they can’t afford to pay somebody else to do the work for them.
“I think the biggest thing that you do is provide hope,” he said, “that they think ‘people care about us,’ and that’s really what we want to communicate, that they’re not alone.”
The group is coordinating with the Westgate Church of Christ in Beaumont. The volunteers will be sleeping on air mattresses in church classrooms and eating meals out of the church’s kitchen. The Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team, based in Nashville, is providing the materials.
Hatfield said they can bring a maximum of 150 students, and about 10 have signed up. Registration ends on Feb. 15, and the cost of going is $25. They will leave in the afternoon on March 9 and return March 16.
Volunteers will meet several times before the trip. Hatfield said these meetings will be about understanding the culture, what the people are going through and how to be sensitive and respectful towards the homeowners as they work on their homes, alongside learning spiritual disciplines to help them prepare for the trip.
“We’re the family of God, and we’re trying to help people in need,” Hatfield said. “We believe that God calls us to be his hands and feet to the world . . . we try to connect them to the local church there to do follow-ups on how they’re doing later on.”
Visit https://studentactivities.acu.edu/event/spring-break-service-trip-sign-ups/ to sign up.