One Year Later, Helping To Rebuild Katrina-Devastated Areas Remains On the Minds of Rhodes Community

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Publication Date: 8/29/2006

Posted on the door in the Palmer Hall Cloister is a flier that asks, “Do you want to help?” On the flier is a photo of a building in Bay St. Louis, Miss., destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The flier is from Rhodes Rebuilds, a student-led effort focused on rebuilding efforts in Bay St. Louis, Miss.  Students are planning a trip October 13-17.

Just recently, Rhodes alumnus Sam Thompson ’03 completed 51 consecutive marathons in 50 states to call attention to the struggles that remain on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and the need for continuing support. Students, alumni and other members of the Rhodes community held a fundraising reception for the First Presbyterian Church in Bay St. Louis to help with their rebuilding efforts. Several Rhodes chapters (Chicago, North Texas, Atlanta, and Memphis, just to name a few) held awareness or fundraising events in connection with Thompson’s runs across the nation. About $7,000 was raised in the various chapter fundraising efforts.

Rhodes itself has hundreds of alumni and students from the communities hardest hit by the hurricane and last year accepted about 20 students from Tulane University and Dillard University. Several of the students lived with Rhodes alumni while in Memphis for the fall 2005 semester. To provide “emergency aid” to Rhodes students displaced from their homes, the Alumni Association, individual alumni and  Rhodes faculty and staff contributed to a fund set up for that purpose. Bonner Scholars and Kinney Volunteers at Rhodes also assisted with the Memphis response by giving blood, packaging supplies, and joining with local churches and the Red Cross to assist in the distribution of supplies.

In addition, the Rhodes community donated supplies to members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha located in Louisiana and flooded by Hurricane Rita, another devastating storm of 2005.  Rhodes staffer Joby Dion, a member of the tribe, coordinated the efforts. He now will return to Louisiana to help with rebuilding.

“Recovery [from Katrina] is a marathon not a sprint,” says Thompson, and the Rhodes community certainly realizes this as relief efforts continue to be planned.