YORK, Pa. — Power washing a worn-down and moldy basement isn’t usually something that one looks forward to doing. Regardless, wading through a muddy, flooded basement with squeegee in hand, college student Danielle Toone could not have been more satisfied with the experience. It was late in January 2020, when Toone was brought in to work alongside several other volunteers to fix up a neighbor’s flooded basement in York, Pennsylvania.
Toone is an emergency management major (with a focus on responding to natural disasters) attending Pennsylvania’s Millersville University. She has grown up with a Southern Baptist background, and in the summer of 2018 and winter of 2019, she interned with the Baptist Resource Network (BRN)’s own Kenton Hunt, state director of disaster relief. Toone’s desire after her May graduation is to find a job in disaster and humanitarian aid work, and she leapt at this chance for disaster response experience.
The job of the volunteers was to rip down rotted ceiling tiles in preparation for gutting and sweeping, clean out mold, power wash dirty floors, and empty the basement in preparation for eventually aiding the neighbor in moving back in. The flooding had inflicted heavy damage on the basement and excess water needed to be sucked into the sump pumps to prevent more mold from growing.
Toone had previously aided BRN’s Disaster Relief in constructing shower and laundry units for volunteer trips, helped to plan trainings, and organized the online volunteer database. She was more than prepared to handle another DR excursion, and even reunited with some familiar faces amongst the volunteers, met during previous SEND Relief work in Puerto Rico.
More impressive still, Toone brought along her college roommate, Joy Weddington, from Millersville University, a fellow emergency management major interested in gaining experience with disaster response work. This hard day of work also resulted in fostering that friend’s relations with the Southern Baptist Convention, work-related experience bringing about an evangelism opportunity. The friend viewed the day as valuable and enjoyable, and was enthusiastic about participating in DR work in the future.
A flooded basement is never something one looks forward to, but in this instance, everything worked out. The neighbor was aided by the volunteer team, who thoroughly cleaned and repaired the damage to the house. Toone’s friend received useful, first-hand experience both in the field and side-by-side with a Christian organization. And Toone herself came away from the day, exhausted but satisfied, and more convinced than ever that she would gladly pursue a career in a disaster response ministry.