The Colgate Scene
January 2006

Able hands, a symbol of hope

Senior Alexis Gewertz and sophomore Caryn Fields spent the majority of an afternoon searching for and cleaning CDs found in the rubble of the Gaspards' house. These CDs held immense sentimental value for their mentally handicapped son Heath. Heath, who is extremely passionate about music, was concerned about losing his collection of more than 800 CDs to the storm.

We had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the community center outside of Lafayette, La., under the cover of night. The floors were hard and sleep was irregular, but come 9 a.m., our group of 17 students and three coordinators were eager for action. A field of sugarcane fringed the center's yard and we hurried to taste it. Breaking the rods in half, we found rotten yellow mush where the fibrous centers should have been. Over the next few days, many small moments like that reminded us that it was only a few weeks before that the disastrous floodwaters had receded, leaving rotting, molded artifacts behind.

Immediately following the disasters of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Colgate community felt a strong impulse to actually "do something." During October break, students from all grades and demographic areas traveled into the hurricanes' destruction zone with COVE director Marnie Terhune, assistant director Betsey Busche, and administrative coordinator Colleen Nassimos.

Our mission was to do what we could to help community members, while also fact-finding in preparation for later excursions. Working with the Southern Mutual Help Association's rural recovery task force, the Colgate crew canvassed areas to determine and prioritize tasks, contacted FEMA, and lent eager and able hands wherever it could.

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