It's the start of the academic year, but Iowa State University counseling psychology graduate students Sarah Anthoney and Ashley Hackler already have spring break on their minds. As leaders of the group Students Supporting Health and Relief Efforts (SHARE), the two will spend the next six months planning a service trip in March to help Iowans affected by the severe storms that hit the region in May.
The trip will be the group's third service expedition. In March 2007, nine SHARE volunteers went to Buras, La., to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina through the disaster-relief nonprofit Emergency Communities, and last March, 10 SHARE members returned to the Gulf Coast to work for a similar group called Hands On Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Miss. SHARE members planned to return to the Gulf Coast this year until tragedy struck home, says Hackler, who traveled to Cedar Rapids in June to aid flood victims there.
"Iowa is dealing with some of the greatest natural disasters the state has ever seen," says Hackler. "We want to help in whatever way we can."
SHARE, which includes graduate and undergraduate members from a variety of departments, came together after Hackler traveled to New Orleans for APA's 2006 Annual Convention and observed how much work the post-Katrina region still needed. She and the other volunteers helped out in a variety of ways, removing mold from flooded homes, visiting displaced residents and helping children with their homework.