Mission trip gives NHS volunteers 'a new perspective on things'

Cary Ashby • Dec 7, 2016 at 2:00 PM

The Norwalk High School students simply wanted to help others.

That’s why Chris Jackson’s five industrial education students volunteered to be part of a mission trip to Clendenin, W.Va. Working during the three-day trip were: Sophomores Troy Wright, Ty Shweizer and Noah Frantz, junior Aria Downey and senior Talon Bussert.

They worked alongside another volunteer crew from the local organization Answering the Call Together with the blessing from the Norwalk City Schools board of education.

The experience to help flood victims was the first mission trip for many of the students, including Jackson, their teacher.

“I just wanted to help people,” Frantz said. “I obviously just wanted to do my part and do as much as I could do.”

Jackson said by the end of the experience, the students wanted to do even more than they did and were frustrated they couldn’t do more work at their job sites. His students were involved in framing, electrical work, putting up and muddying drywall.

“It’s hard seeing people who don’t have much before have nothing,” the teacher said.

Frantz helped put up drywall in a house.

“We got all the drywall put up,” the NHS sophomore said. “It definitely takes two people.”

While in the West Virginia town, Frantz saw emptied houses, items scattered throughout the community and a family living in a tent.

“It was heartbreaking. I felt like I could have done more,” the teenager said.

He met and befriended one of the local homeowners during the late October mission trip.

“I’m still in contact with the homeowner to this day,” Frantz said.

Downey has been involved in volunteer work through her church, but she hadn’t done anything out of the state.

“I thought it would be a really good experience and (I) like helping people,” the junior said when asked why she volunteered. “We got to see a lot of pictures (beforehand), so we kinda got to know what to expect.”

Downey heard the story from a Clendenin woman who had had lost everything in the 24-hour flood that she had kept in a storage unit. She hadn’t been able to put all the items into the house where she was moving.

“It destroyed everything that was left there,” Downey said. “She thanked us all a ton.

“I was working on electrical stuff all three days,” added the girl, whose uncle is an electrician. “I had a little bit of a base of knowledge, but no hands-on work.”

Downey said the mission trip “put a new perspective on things.”

“It makes you more grateful,” she added.

Like Downey, Bussert has done some volunteer work, but this was his first mission trip.

“I expected it to be all cleaned up,” said the NHS senior, who learned how to assemble electrical outlets and run wiring. “There was still quite a bit to do.

“I like helping people out; it makes me feel good,” Bussert added. “I felt like a modern-day minute man.”

Jackson was pleased to see the students take ownership of their job sites.

He worked in a house in which the only salvageable part was the ceiling. Jackson was with a crew which was putting up dry wall.

“They expected it take four days. We busted our hump and got it done,” the teacher said.

“I’ve never been on a mission trip like this before,” Jackson said. “If I could take 100 kids down there, I would have.” 

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