"I stepped into President Roush's office one day in mid-October to have a conversation related to homecoming and I left as the organizer of his class's trip to the Gulf to help with hurricane relief," she said.
Roush, Kelley, and the students, who are working in conjunction with the Salvation Army, are spending their time in New Orleans cooking and serving food for those in need. They are also joined by Danville Salvation Army employee Justin Caldwell.
"Our days have been revolving around the cooking, serving and clean-up of about 4,500 meals from canteens scattered throughout the city," Kelley explained.
Four of the students must rise at 3:30 a.m. each morning in order to cook the meals that will be served that day. Canteens are then filled with supplies and the workers are all at their assigned stations ready to begin work at 11 a.m.
"The work we are doing is not glamorous. It just needs to be done," Roush said.
Staying at Camp Algiers
While in New Orleans, the group is staying at Camp Algiers, a camp for volunteers involved in the relief effort, where conditions are what Kelley describes as "somewhat military." The volunteers live out of large tents which hold about 400 people each. The Centre group is sharing its living quarters with several other groups, including National Guard, FEMA, church groups, as well as other college groups.
Unfortunately, the city around them is still in disrepair. "It's been four months and still there are hardly any businesses open, dozens of houses are abandoned, and 60 percent of the city is still without power," Kelley said, quickly adding that volunteers are still desperately needed.
Kelley describes the experience as "eye-opening, to say the least."
For Roush, seeing the unbreakable spirit of the people who are suffering because of this disaster has been something very special.
"They are appreciative and, for the most part, hopeful of what the future holds. Their city has been destroyed in large part, but they are determined to find the good in their circumstances," he said. "It has been our privilege to be involved in this drama for a week. The impact of doing so will last for years and years."