Many Minot State University students who left Minot for the summer returned to a campus that seemed fairly unchanged but homes and businesses just across University Avenue were destroyed or devastated by the flood.
People like the Rev. Kari Williamson, head of Lutheran Campus Ministry at MSU, saw that situation offered great potential for learning and for service.
She enlisted the help of Lutheran Disaster Relief team, Minot Area Community Foundation and Town-er's Lutheran tri-parish to organize two work days, Sept. 10 and Sept. 24.
The Rev. Kari Williamson, right, and Rhonda Thompson matched volunteers with jobs for a flood relief work day.
On Sept. 10, about 30 volunteers, including MSU students and staff, joined hands to repair some flooded homes.
Rhonda Thompson of Lutheran Disaster Relief said her group selected four homes where volunteers would work. LDR volunteers led and worked alongside students to muck out basements and remove sheetrock.
"We tried to chose some of the most vulnerable people to help, and to match volunteers' strength and abilities to jobs that needed to be done," Thompson said.
The work was far from pleasant in many cases. MSU student Rhett Pederson of Estevan, Sask., said cleaning a refrigerator filled with spoiled meat was his worst task.
"But it really made me feel good to help," he said. "I know we only scratched the surface of the work to be done, but it helped."
"It was really eye-opening to work in the home of two older retired teachers," Sierra Lassila, of Garrison, said. "Sometimes we students live in our own little bubble on campus but this is a chance to really help.
"It's so personally rewarding," Lassila, a peer minister in LCM, said. "We hear of natural disasters across the country or around the world and wish we could help. Here's our chance, in our own backyard."
Trisha McLeod, a student from Weyburn, Sask., could see her work having a lasting effect. Her group cleaned a First Lutheran Church property that will house future volunteer groups.
"You can experience helping while you get out into the Minot community, another plus," McLeod said.
The Sept. 24 workday is planned to mirror the Sept. 10 one, Williamson said, with volunteer students and staff asked to meet at 9 a.m. in the multi-cultural center at MSU's student center.
"We start with some discussion," she said. "We want to be sure our students and staff realize the trash they are carrying out was someone's treasure."
She said a group of University of North Dakota students plan to attend the Sept. 24 work day.
The Towner tri-church parish provides noon lunches and the Minot Area Community Foundation grant paid for the pizza at 4 p.m., quitting time. Masks and gloves are provided for volunteers, too, she said.
Williamson noted the university has provided an office for her on the first floor of the administration building after Augustana Lutheran Church, across University Avenue, sank beneath flood waters.
For more information, call Williamson at 833-2221.