United Saints Long-Term Volunteer: Billy Berek
Who would have thought that an initial week-long trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. in March of 2012 would ignite a spark to return to the tornado ravished area for a long-term service commitment?
Billy, along with 40 brothers from his service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, came over 700 miles from Chicago, Ill. to lend a hand in debris removal. “[We worked] mostly with lot clearing, unfortunately, as the debris from the tornado was still widespread [almost a year after the fact].”
Billy has been with the United States Recovery Project in Tuscaloosa for three weeks now and plans to stay for a total of six months.
“I’ve learned more about how a sense of community can be embodied and strengthened by traumatic events.”
He has made several trips to disaster areas in the past including New Orleans and Tennessee, but his time in Tuscaloosa will be the longest. “I try not to go into new situations with too many expectations, preferring to assess things upon arrival.” Having just recently graduated from college, Billy found coming to this college town rather persuasive.
“I think my fondest memory [of my time with United Saints] will be the warm hearts of my coworkers and the camaraderie I have and will continue to develop over my tenure.”