'Jumping in' with faith

Kellie Baker, GreenvilleKellie Baker

As a graduate student in East Carolina University’s School of Physical Therapy, Kellie Baker has a long to-do list. But working at a home near a tributary of the Neuse River made the top of her list after Florence.

Baker visited the home Sept. 22 with fellow students. Together they salvaged tools, cleared debris, and worked to fully demolish a collapsed shed. Clad in simple breathing masks, they worked in 90-degree heat and quickly learned how to ignore the odor of standing, dirty water.  

“I just want to come out and do what I can,” Baker, who belonged to St. Francis of Assisi Parish when she lived in Raleigh, said. “I feel like we have done some pretty good work,”

Dr. Amy Gross McMillan, chair of the PT department and a parishioner at St. Paul in New Bern, agreed. She helped to organize the event for her students.

“Within seconds [of receiving the email] people started to say ‘I will be there.’ They jumped at the opportunity,” she said of the group. “We are all servants to begin with. We live and serve and serve and live.”

Homeowner Michael Burke, who evacuated with his wife to Williamston during the hurricane, came home to what he called “complete and utter destruction.” He was thankful for Baker, McMillan and the rest of their team.

“I am incredibly grateful because, essentially, I can now get back and begin to lead an almost-normal life,” he said as they worked.

Read more Humanity in the Hurricane.