Volunteer Spotlight: Sunny in Coastal Bend
Disaster, Community, and Dissertation: The story of one College Student’s learning experience on project.
Assisting neighbors, community members, families, and when each of us first arrive, strangers on their road to recovery is an exceptional opportunity that we have here in Coastal Bend. If that weren’t enough, we can simultaneously grow and learn personally while serving with All Hands and Hearts. One volunteer joined our efforts looking to help the often overlooked small towns of South Texas where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, all the while doing research for her college dissertation on Disaster Aid and Communities.
Sunny Campbell, a native to Texas, studies Social Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Roehampton in London, England. She has a special interest in social policy and disaster theory, and when Harvey hit she felt compelled to join recovery efforts. She not only wanted to help people, but she was extremely interested in studying the operations of a long term assistance recovery program and its interactions with the local community.
Sunny volunteered with us for one month during her summer break, working in both Response and Recovery on numerous homes throughout the area. With Response she removed insulation, drywall, and sanitized homes to remove mold spores. In this phase of work she also served as a Team Leader for two days. For Recovery and Rebuild she developed skills including, insulation, drywall, texture, painting, flooring, baseboards, and caulking. She likes to tell people that now she can complete approximately half a house.
She learned a lot and grew on project. She says, “What I found [on project] was a feeling that is impossible to replace, the ability to find strength in yourself to step outside your comfort zone. From the moment I got there, I knew the people I was meeting were of a different caliber…I pulled as much inspiration from staff and other volunteers, as the homeowners.”
Not only did Sunny have the opportunity to help families in need, but she took this opportunity to grow personally and further herself academically. As her research continues we anticipate its completion and are happy her time with All Hands and Hearts was able to be a part of her journey. It is an experience she recommends to all and wants to share widely. Her love for this organization and the work we do has just begun, but she believes it is the passion of each individual on project that powers us. Come join our team, bring that passion, a passion to serve, to make a difference, to change lives, to learn, to grow, and let’s see what happens together.
While in Coastal Bend, Sunny began work on her dissertation. She interviewed various volunteers and staff members to ensure a broad perspective of how disaster recovery works and why people were involved. She developed relationships with our homeowners, and attended Rockport Market Days, getting an opportunity to be more connected with the community. Additionally, she shadowed our Project Manager for a day, joining staff meetings, press events, and managing field activities at the homes in which teams were working.