“Roll Tide Recovery” a Success

More Than 100 Volunteers Participate

Alexis Williams and Dean Robert Olin
Dean for a Day winner Alexis Williams receives a plaque from Dean Olin. Check out the video and photo gallery at the end of this article for more images from the Roll Tide Recovery day.

From the September 2013 Desktop News Three families in the Tuscaloosa area are one step closer to a safe home with the help of more than 100 volunteers from the College of Arts and Sciences. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, “Roll Tide Recovery” was a community service project to help ongoing Tuscaloosa tornado recovery efforts.

The August 24 service day was the result of sophomore Alexis Williams’ winning entry in a “Dean for a Day” social media campaign held this spring by the College’s Office of Student Services. The contest, which was designed to enhance social media engagement, asked students what they would do if they were dean for a day.

Williams, a criminal justice major from Birmingham, said she would use her time as dean for a day to host a relief project for victims of the April 27, 2011 tornado. Williams met with Dr. Robert Olin, dean of the College and sponsor of the contest, to learn more about the responsibilities of being a dean and to share ideas for a tornado relief project.

“This is something I have wanted to see happen for quite some time,” said Olin. “I am proud to see our students take such strong interest in the community around them and want to give back.”

On Saturday, August 24, those plans became a reality when more than 100 volunteers worked on three separate projects in the Tuscaloosa area. Volunteers put finishing touches on a new home on Juanita Drive for Tracy Clancy, a Tuscaloosa resident and tornado survivor. A second home on Juanita Drive, where volunteers began the process of framing walls, is the 15th home donated by the Nick’s Kids Fund as part of the 15 for 15 campaign in which a home was donated for each national championship won by the Crimson Tide. The home is for Shalare Powell, Nicholas Giles, and their two daughters.

Laura Kochman, a graduate student in the Department of English, participated in the UA Day of Service two years ago, where volunteers were still cleaning up debris from the tornado. Kochman was compelled to continue to help with recovery efforts. On Aug. 24, Kochman saw how much had changed from those early days after the storm.

“It’s strange to come back, but good also. It’s strange to see all the reminders of the damage and how the landscape has changed, but it is really good to see how much building is happening now,” she said. “So much has changed compared to a couple of years ago when we were just digging glass out of the dirt and now there is actually a house around us.”

A third home on 16th Avenue is being renovated for Billy Taylor, a Tuscaloosa resident. Volunteers assisted in the demolition of the inside and outside of the house, and began the process of putting siding on the outside. Williams, along with 20 of her peers, were on hand to get the 16th Avenue home renovation underway.

“I’m from Birmingham and when the tornado hit, it was just complete destruction. I just really wanted to bring back the community, that was important to me,” Williams said. “I’m extremely happy with the outcome and seeing all my peers come out to help.”

Like Williams and many other students who experienced the storm firsthand, “Roll Tide Recovery” was a way to give back to the community. Emma Sovich, a graduate student from the Department of English, says community service is an important part of recovery.

“It just makes sense to help when I can. We’re giving a family a home, and this is a really tangible way to help,” she said. “I think it’s important when you live in a community to participate in it wholeheartedly.”