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Katrina comes to Sioux Center

By Julie Ooms

After hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Dordt community, like many around the country, made an effort to help Katrina’s victims. People contributed to a clothing drive, participated in a walk-a-thon, and donated to a relief fund. However, many in the community wanted to do more.

“We wanted to help, but didn’t know how,” says Sue Droog, director of human resources. So, when community member Patty Luken mentioned that her friend Joyce Satterly from Grand Bay, Alabama, had been left with nearly nothing, the college found a way to help.

The Satterlys—Joyce and her children, Stephanie and Matthew—were invited to stay—rent-free until July 1—in an empty house at the Dordt farm, to allow them time to get back on their feet. When the Satterlys agreed, preparations for their arrival became a community project. Dordt maintenance staff prepared the farmhouse, which hadn’t been occupied for eighteen months. Justice For All donated furnishings and other household items; other donors contributed pots and pans, couches, beds, towels—the basic necessities for a home. Sioux Center businesses donated gift cards for clothing, gas, and groceries.

The Satterlys arrived with three suitcases and a car. Their lives have changed significantly since then. Joyce, who worked at a Wal-Mart in Grand Bay, has a job at the Sioux Center Wal-Mart. Stephanie started work at the movie theater and is enrolled at Dordt for the second semester.

Joyce, who has survived three hurricanes, says she intends to relocate here. The aid of Dordt College and its community was invaluable to the Satterlys in helping them get back on their feet in a new community.

Helping the Satterlys benefited the Dordt community as well. “This—helping a family that was truly affected by the hurricane—helps put a face on the Katrina victims,” Droog says. The endeavor of help and hope drew the community together around a common goal, gave them a clear picture of what is possible when tragedy strikes as well as after it has passed, and showed them a clear example of what Christian community, fellowship, and caring is really all about.