27 students from the College of Lake County's (CLC) automotive collision repair program have helped improve area disaster-relief efforts.
Students donated time and materials to restore and paint an equipment trailer, used by a volunteer disaster-response team, from locally-based Journey Church.
The newly restored trailer, known as the Response Unit, received a makeover that went beyond a new paint job. For several weeks this spring, CLC students replaced old, rusty bolts with new ones, and they sandblasted away the old paint before giving the trailer a new coat of white, said Octavio Cavazos, chair of CLC's automotive collision repair department. Besides upbeat graphics, the tagline, "Hope in Every Storm," appears in large capital letters.
"We could not have done this without CLC," said Jeff Berard, response-team director for Journey Church, which has congregations in Kenosha, Burlington, WI, and Beach Park, IL. "The trailer becomes someone's hope, announcing that help has arrived, whether getting water out of a flooded basement or gathering belongings after a tornado. The students did a wonderful job of turning an old trailer into a work of art. They also expanded their knowledge and learned a little more on how to navigate successfully in life by serving their fellow human beings."
The trailer houses generators, power tools, safety equipment and other items used by Journey's newly formed response team. Designed to serve communities in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, the team so far has helped families in Madison, WI, recover from flooding, and they have assisted a Racine family whose house was destroyed by fire. The pool of about 100 volunteers will be trained by area fire and emergency-management professionals in basics of helping local authorities in any disaster, working in shifts of about 20 to 25 per disaster.
"After the first responders have finished their work during and immediately after a disaster, our volunteers come in and help with the recovery process and long-term support for individuals and families who have been affected," said Ray Knight, a leader of the team. "We coordinate our efforts with emergency-management professionals and the work of our team fills a definite gap."