Local group focused on disaster relief

MARQUETTE– In this week’s ABC 10 feature, the focus is on one local group, that is taking every step to lend a helping hand to the areas affected by natural disasters.

Relevant is a campus ministry at Northern Michigan University that focuses on providing service opportunities locally and outside of the Marquette County Area. Relevant has been assisting with relief efforts for nearly 20 years. Coming up this weekend the group will be hosting a silent auction and concert to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.

“A disaster has no respecter of boundaries; it doesn’t just strike the rich, it doesn’t just strike the poor, the black, the white, or the Hispanic communities. Everyone is affected by disasters or can be affected by disasters,” relevant director Deborah Heino said. “I think for those of us who don’t need to worry about being affected by these major natural disasters on a daily basis or even a monthly basis, it’s important to realize these people are our fellow Americans.”

The event will take place at the University Center at NMU. Doors open for the silent auction will open at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The band Chasin Steele and the Northern Lights A Capella will be performing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you can’t make the event but still wish to help, you may have noticed donation buckets around town. All of the proceeds are going to Convoy of Hope.
During the NMU Thanksgiving break Relevant will be heading down South to pick up the pieces from the hurricanes.
“But because of these relationships they know us and we’ve built a reputation with them,” Heino said. “So when we tell them we’re bringing down a group from Northern they get excited because they know we have a good work ethic.”

The group also aims to spend spring break helping out in Puerto Rico. The group never knows what the situation will be like when heading down. Earlier projects include a lot of clean up and visiting sites awhile after a natural disaster involves more building.

“We don’t know what to expect in Puerto Rico, it’s a U.S. territory but it’ll be our first kind of overseas trip we do,” Heino said. “I’ve been in contact with some of the workers there and it’s a dog eat dog world every man is for themselves down there. So it’s very difficult, it’s very heartbreaking to see the videos they have been sending back to me.”

Heino said many students join the group not knowing anyone and end up making lifelong friends -one pair is now married.

“But more importantly we build relationships with the people we are working with there that have been affected by the hurricane, the tornado, or whatever the disaster is,” Heino said. “Because of that students come back and when they see a tornado hitting hear an area where were have already worked they worry about the Johnson family.”

The organization is always looking for more community members to take part on their trips. If you wish to donate specifically to help out with trip costs visit Relevant.