Since Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast, many at Baylor University have been working to help evacuees and flood victims as well as affected students and their families.
Among the evacuees brought to Waco were about 20 nursing home residents suffering from dementia. A local nursing home volunteered to host the group, and Baylor School of Social Work students assisted in caregiving, led by professors Dr. Jim Ellor and Helen Harris.
"The students calmly and competently visited with persons who needed presence and caring and reassurance," said Harris. "They were skillful social workers. They were tender ministers. They met 'the least of these' and saw the face of Christ. And I saw the face of Christ in them."
In October, a group of 26 students traveled to the Houston area to do relief work on the Gulf Coast. The students worked with the C.O.R.E. (Christians Organizing for Relief Efforts) program. Through C.O.R.E., the group connected with three families whose homes were affected by the hurricane and storm surge. In addition, Baylor's baseball team spent a November weekend in League City, Texas, in various outreach and relief efforts, including house cleaning and removal of debris, sheetrock and flooring.
"Our players and coaches are looking forward to providing assistance to people hit so hard by Hurricane Ike," Bears' head coach Steve Smith, BS '86, said before leaving. "It is wonderful to have a program like C.O.R.E. to coordinate not just our group but groups from all over the country."
Back on campus, University officials contacted the approximately 800 students whose families live along the Texas and Louisiana coast to offer the support of the Baylor family. Counseling Center staff members, academic counselors and professors all volunteered to assist students in need. Some students had homes that were badly damaged or destroyed and parents whose employers were shut down.
In addition, the Baylor Parents League and the Financial Aid and Development offices worked together to make financial aid available to students with unexpected needs. Thus far, more than 40 students have received awards from the Student Emergency Fund, says Judy Maggard, director of Parent Programs for Baylor Parents League.
Interim President David E. Garland sent out an e-mail shortly after the storm to ask for prayers and financial assistance in supporting these students, and over 100 donors gave approximately $20,000 to the Ike Baylor Student Relief Fund, which aided affected students.
For more information on supporting students, visit www.baylor.edu/onlinegiving.