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DR intern helps in Houston, earns college credit

MARYVILLE, Mo. (BP) — Maddy Atwell spent her entire summer preparing for a disaster.

A member of Laura Street Baptist Church in Maryville, Mo., and a collegiate intern for Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief, she spent her summer training to respond however she was needed — whether in mass care, child care, laundry, mud-out work, chaplaincy, chainsaw, or incident command.

And while nobody would complain about a disaster-free summer, it was a little bit ironic when one of the most destructive hurricanes on record hit Houston weeks after her internship ended and her junior year classes at Northwest Missouri State University began.

“I kept seeing how bad Hurricane Harvey was in Houston and how our disaster relief teams were responding, and here I am trained but stuck in Missouri,” she said. “I wanted to be there!”

Fortunately, Atwell’s major is emergency disaster management. That not-so-minor detail helped convince her professors to give her time away from class to serve with other Missouri Baptists in the Houston area.

“They knew I had credentials and had been working with them all summer,” she said. “They put it down as field experience and not only got me out of class, but got me credit. I called my mom, my job and then found a ride down.”

Because she was cross-trained, Atwell served in the incident command center, conducted damage assessments, mud-out work, and prepared food with the mass-care unit.

“It was difficult to catch up on a week and a half of classes, but it was so worth it,” she said. “It was so cool to be able to tell each of my professors … at a secular school about what Southern Baptists are doing and my role in that.”

Two professors even had Atwell present her trip to the class when she returned.

“I knew God was going to work through all the experience I was going to get,” she noted, “but I never expected that He would continue working even after I got back and bring me opportunities after I got home.”