Modulating the more conventional escapades of fall break, 20 Notre Dame students went on a five-hour road trip this week to frolic with jackhammers, sledges, buckets and shovels in a moldy basement.
In the aftermath of the June floods, St. Wenceslaus Catholic Parish in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, included some of the most hopelessly waterlogged buildings in that Mississppi riverside city.The heroic efforts of hundreds of parishioners and other volunteers enabled the reopening of the 134-year old church by Sept. 28, in time for the celebration of Mass on its patronal feast day.
But the rectory was taking a longer time to dry, and its basement was still dangerously larded with contaminated dirt from the floodwater which had filled it months earlier.David Martin, the parish manager, was concerned about the potentially harmful effects of the mold and resulting vapors.
Two Notre Dame sophomores, Hugh McDermott of Springfield, Ill., and Noelle Hilmer of Elm Grove, Wis., organized the basements cleanup with help of University alumni in the Cedar Rapids area.They spent most of Monday pulverizing the basement floor and removing several inches of rocks and soil.They plan to continue in flood recovery projects for the rest of the week.
Seth Miller, a 1997 alumnus and board member of the Notre Dame Club ofCedar Rapids/Iowa City, spoke proudly of the 20 students the club has hosted.
These kids are first class and great representatives of Notre Dame,Miller said.
When a reporter from the Cedar Rapids Gazette newspaper asked Hilmer about the culture of community service in Notre Dames student life, she ingenuously amplified Millers point.
It’s just built into everything,she told him.You hear about it in all your classes.