When 14 tornadoes ripped through the region on Memorial Day, they left behind a great need in the community.
Among the many organizations helping is the University of Dayton. (UD’s campus was not among the areas hit by the tornadoes).
On Thursday, dining services prepared and delivered 1,000 boxed lunches, 40 pizzas and two skids of water to St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Trotwood, one of the communities hit by an EF-4 tornado that caused a swath of destruction 19 miles long.
“The need is exceptional,” said Judy Wilson, a member of St. Margaret’s. Volunteers then loaded the items into their cars and began distributing them to the community — to those who suffered damage to their homes, and those who are helping the community recover.
Thom Madden, associate vice president for financial support services, said the food donations began Wednesday and will continue into next week. “This has really been a humbling experience,” he said.
UD is supporting organizations with response networks established in the community to best address needs. This includes an effort within Trotwood to restore access to homes and businesses damaged by the storm.
On Friday, 35 employees from facilities management — skilled at maintaining UD’s grounds and buildings — hauled trees and removed debris from neighborhoods.
“The first house we helped was a UD grad,” said Rick Krysiak, vice president of facilities management and planning. “She was very happy to see us.”
Individual campus members also volunteered time with organizations like The Foodbank, which is providing food and drinks to some of the thousands of people still without electricity or water. The Red Cross is also utilizing volunteers.
On campus, community members are donating diapers, wipes, formula and hand sanitizer, which the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community and Campus Ministry are providing to local organizations for distribution. During Reunion Weekend June 7-9, attendees can drop off items in most need (toiletries, diapers, sanitary wipes, formula) at Kennedy Union Torch Lounge to be distributed through local relief agencies.
UD is also helping its own. It has opened RecPlex shower facilities to campus members affected by the water crisis, and faculty, staff and students who lost their homes are moving into campus housing. The University is also working through partner agencies Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley and St. Vincent de Paul of Dayton to fill requests for temporary housing.
Larry Burnley is vice president for diversity and inclusion and helped facilitate UD’s connection to St. Margaret’s and the network of churches responding to the disaster. He said amidst such terrible disaster, there’s cause for thanksgiving to be found in the opportunity to serve during a time of need: “I am proud to be a Flyer here in this moment.”
Natalie Schulte ’20 contributed to this story. Photos by Schulte, Justine Liptak ’20, Madden and Krysiak. Video by John LeComte.