FlipSide Face

FlipSide Face

by Ellie Ankeny

While many Simpson students spent their spring break on the beach or relaxing at home, sophomore Kim Bilstad wanted to do something to help people instead.

She signed up for the Religious Life Community trip to New Orleans and helped with Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. Bilstad had no idea the trip would turn out to be such an amazing experience, but amazing it was.

“The whole time I was there, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could live through all of that,” Bilstad said. “We actually stood where seven feet of water had once been.”

The group, consisting of 18 students and sponsors, Walter Lain, assistant dean for multicultural and international affairs and Carolyn Dallinger, assistant professor of social work and criminal justice, spent their days gutting a damaged house, removing debris from a parking lot and cleaning out a home for retired nuns. The nuns had been forced to leave behind many personal belongings when they were evacuated so the students collected and sent these items to their owners.

“There was quite a bit of mold and everything was severely damaged by the water,” Bilstad said.

When the group wasn’t busy cleaning up, they toured the Lower 9th Ward, the area that was hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina. They also visited the house where Lain had grew up.

“That part of the trip was filled with a lot of emotion but also a lot of hope when we saw his brother rebuilding their home,” Bilstad said.

Bilstad looks forward to returning to New Orleans someday to see the progress that has been made. But in the meantime, she learned quite a bit from her first trip to the city.

“I’m much more grateful for what I have,” Bilstad said. “I don’t get upset about the little things because you could lose it all in just a single minute.”