The Houston chapter of the Alumni Association had planned a late summer picnic, but all plans were shelved when Hurricane Ike landed on the Texas coastline Sept. 13, 2008. New chapter chairs Kevin W. Davies (BS ’82) and Jann Brinkerhoff Davies (BS ’84), along with other alumni, found themselves on the forefront of service.
“We had experienced natural disasters before, but nothing like this,” Jann says. Their home sustained minimal damage, but this was not the case for others. “We had Saints evacuated from the Galveston area living at our stake center,” she adds. For the next several weekends, Kevin headed to Galveston to help with cleanup efforts.
Kevin worked alongside Church members and fellow alums ripping out carpet and removing drywall. “It was not uncommon to see waterlines six feet high in the homes we were gutting, ” says Kevin. “Many homeowners were so deeply moved by the help, they broke down and cried.”
BYU All-American shot put athlete Jim P. Roberts (BS ’01) also made a difference with his neighbors. “I loaded up my chain saw, put on my boots, and went around the subdivision cutting downed trees—you could tell people were overwhelmed,” Roberts says.
Friendswood Stake Relief Society president Janice Marchant Seely (BS ’77) witnessed generous donations from the Saints. “We asked stake members for clothing and household donations; we received so much that our stake center literally looked like a mini Deseret Industries, ” she says.
In the midst of the hurricane aftermath, the alumni chapter hopes to continue to be a source of help to others.
“We want the chapter to be a gathering place,” Jann says. “We want those who are involved in the chapter to stay involved and others to join in.” Chapter goals include monthly activities and a continuation of annual events with the Houston Rockets and Astros, where proceeds from ticket sales go to the chapter ’s replenishment grant. At the annual freshman send-off, incoming BYU freshmen from the area have the opportunity to mingle and ask questions about their new school. The chapter also sponsors cultural arts activities.