Indiana College Students Repair Homes in Griffin Damaged by Tornadoes

Print This Post

Volunteers from Valparaiso University with Griffin homeowners.

By Katherine Pasch

Ten Valparaiso University students traveled from Indiana to Griffin in March to repair homes damaged by the January 2023 tornadoes. These volunteers participated in the long-term recovery efforts led by the Spalding County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SC VOAD). Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families and Children, a Georgia Family Connection Collaborative, serves as the anchor organization for SC VOAD.

For the next three to four years, SC VOAD will continue to help homeowners repair their homes, assisted by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Catholic Charities of Atlanta.

Through a grant from Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, The Salvation Army equipped a similar team to help the community recover.

Valparaiso is an independent Lutheran university in Valparaiso, Ind. The university’s mission is to prepare students for leadership and service in the world. The students were accompanied by The Reverend Katherine Museus, university pastor, and Ryan Cole, director of student philanthropy. They stayed at the volunteer housing site at Saint John Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The student volunteers, who worked on several homes, were supervised by Craig O’Hara, United Methodist Committee on Relief construction manager. Mary and Tor Brunso, members of an experienced mission team from Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City, provided on-the-job training.

These students spent their spring break learning how to use sledgehammers and chainsaws and how to install insulation and hang drywall. “These are life skills everyone needs to learn so that we are prepared for natural disasters that are occurring more frequently,” said The Reverend Morgan Gordy, who coordinates Lutheran Disaster Response in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia.

“We saw how the lack of insurance and financial resources made it more difficult for homeowners to get the help they needed,” said a student majoring in social work.

A student majoring in meteorology added, “I’ve learned that these storms are more than just blips on a radar screen. They destroy property and turn lives upside down.” Another student agreed and said, “Most of us live in the Midwest, and we’ve never experienced tornadoes. We’ve witnessed the horrible destruction they cause.”

As the long-term recovery continues in Griffin and throughout Spalding County, SC VOAD needs more volunteers to assist with carpentry, sheetrock, flooring, painting, and similar tasks to help reduce the costs so more homeowners can receive assistance in repairing their homes.

Visit to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Krystin Dean
GaFCP Communications Specialist

Follow us on Twitter: @gafcpnews

Connect with us on Facebook.