VIDOR—A junior economics student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor recently rallied support to help make a difference in a community more than 250 miles away from the Belton campus.
Tommy Wilson, 22, said he felt a strong desire to get involved with relief efforts soon after Hurricane Ike ravaged parts of the Texas coast.
“I felt the call to go,” he said. “I asked God to open some doors.”
Wilson shared his feelings with Shawn Shannon, director of Baptist Student Ministries at UMHB, and Tom Henderson, director of missions for Bell Baptist Association. Shannon forwarded to Wilson an e-mail noting the Baptist General Convention of Texas listed a need in Vidor.
Wilson then worked through Nehemiah’s Vision, a nonprofit organization created after Hurricane Rita to help rebuild homes and churches in Southeast Texas.
“I called them and asked, ‘What do y’all need?’” he said.
Once Wilson found out there was a need for laborers to help clean up and repair structures, he got to work contacting university students. Wilson knew that with fall break approaching in mid-October, many students would be available and willing to lend a hand.
After making announcements in classes, during chapel and on a social networking group site, 23 students signed up for service in Vidor.
While the trip wasn’t officially sponsored by the university, UMHB paid fuel costs for the students’ trip.
The students helped complete a mud-out of three houses—shoveling mud out of homes, removing damaged drywall and spraying the interior with disinfectant.
They also patched a roof at the Baptist Student Ministry building near Lamar University in Vidor. Wilson arranged for Cecil Rankin, a roofer from his hometown of Charlotte, about 60 miles south of San Antonio, to travel to Vidor to provide guidance.
“I thought it was amazing,” Wilson said about the trip. “It was really, really fun, but at the same time challenging. Most of us college students have never done that type of work before, but we figured it out and got it done.”