Today was our second day here in Panama City, Florida. Although Hurricane Michael hit this city many months ago, the destruction it caused still remains. Entire fields of trees lie flattened or bent at odd angles. Street signs and fences are strewn about haphazardly and warped by the 160 mph winds that passed through the city. Homes and businesses are still in shambles, with collapsed roofs and fallen walls. Each glance out the window of the van was a chilling reminder of the devastation these people faced and an indication that they still need help.

     But in the face of all this destruction, members of the Pasadena community have come together to help rebuild. It was both heartwarming and inspiring to see the selflessness of those committing their time and efforts to the reconstruction of Pasadena. We’ve met people that spend every spare moment helping strangers get their lives back. I hope to emulate such altruism throughout my life.

     At the worksite, we were put to work by a member of SBP, one of the main organizations helping the victims of Hurricane Michael recover. Learning how to do everything was a daunting task at first. I had never picked up a hammer before yesterday, much less used a power drill. However, after ‘screwing’ it up many times and nearly drilling a hole into my hand, I finally caught on.

      My friend Kyle and I were tasked with installing a piece of drywall into a room, which turned out to be much harder than we thought it would be. Kyle and I failed many, many times. We laughed, we cried, and we sweated, but eventually, we conquered the wall. As we stood in front of our proud accomplishment, hugging each other, I began to realize the true Power of Giving. I had helped a family get their lives back while gaining a lifelong friend. To serve alongside such amazing people and for such a worthy cause is the greatest feeling. This is an experience I will never forget. I know that this is just the beginning of a lifetime of service.


-Taylor Johnson