Today marked our third and final day in Panama City, Florida. We served Hurricane Michael victims by installing drywall and mudding in their new home. Specifically, our group helped Claude’s family rebuild their residence, just as they helped others during the devastating storm.

It was a rewarding experience to serve a selfless family like Claude’s who positively impacted the lives of others. During the raging storm, they sheltered 12 people who lacked the resources to prepare their houses to withstand the strong rain and wind or even evacuate the city. Without any extra support, they opened up their hearts and homes to protect those who were unable to protect themselves.

After hearing the story of Claude’s family, I was greatly motivated to continue the cycle of change through habitation construction. I became inspired alongside my peers to contribute to building a residence soon to be filled with positivity and celebration. Our group may have thought the drywall contribution was simple, but to Claude’s family, it meant a lot to see the beginnings of their new home’s foundation. We helped build a place where they can all share life’s precious moments together. And to us, it was an honor to receive the opportunity to construct their abode.

Throughout this process, we created much more than just our contribution to the physical foundation of their house.  We created a foundation of change. I personally felt that serving along with a group of talented changemakers of the Student Service Program empowered me to take risks and serve in ways I could not even imagine — like cleaning and construction. And other members of the program experienced the Impact too. For three days straight, our hearts and minds were filled with the power of giving and we went through every challenge to achieve it. But this does not stop here.  This experience of giving back to the marginalized community of Panama City has taught us many valuable lessons and skills. We hope to continue to instill the Power of Giving in our lives and spread it on for generations to come.

– Anika Nayak