News: Coloradans heed call to help Katrina victims

T. M. Fasano
The Windsor Tribune
October 29, 2005

Chadd Bryant never considered himself a compassionate person. But when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast two months ago, the 32-year-old Windsor man felt a strong desire to do something.

Bryant remembered a prayer he learned at a church conference in New York City in April: “God, break my heart for the things that break yours.”

Bryant saw the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and something struck him.

“It’s a real profound prayer. I could have my heart broken for a lot of things, but I’d love to have my heart broken for the things that God’s really concerned about,” Bryant said.

Bryant jumped in a minivan with three other guys just days after Katrina hit and drove 24 hours to help out in any way he could. They hooked up with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team, joined a chainsaw crew and worked 12 hours clearing trees off homes, cars and roads for four days in Prentiss and Columbia, Miss.

When they weren’t working on the saw crew, they bought food at the grocery store and drove through some dangerous neighborhoods playing Santa Claus, passing out food to the Katrina victims. Bryant figures he spent about $1,000 out of his own pocket to purchase groceries.

“People can’t believe that somebody would be so loving that they’d come here and hand out food out of their minivan,” Bryant said.

Bryant and his friends headed down to New Orleans, but weren’t allowed to stay because of the dangerous conditions, then went to Baton Rouge, La., to continue working at a distribution center unloading semi-trucks. He said driving through the devastation in New Orleans was like going through Baghdad or a ghost town.

For a person who admittedly lacked compassion, Bryant has changed his ways.

Bryant’s wife, Jennifer, 31, said her husband is a new man since he came back from Mississippi and Louisiana.

“I’ve been so humbled and I’m so honored to be married to such an amazing man. I think it’s the coolest thing,” Jennifer Bryant said. “It’s totally a life change. Compassionate is the best word. Toward our friends, he’s been very different.”

The experience for Bryant was life-changing. He and about 80 people affiliated with Crossroads Church in Loveland will volunteer from Nov. 5-13 to help clean out 120 homes in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

“This has humbled me. I feel like I’m walking closer to God,” said Bryant, whose wife is expecting a baby girl Nov. 21, a week after he comes back from Mississippi. “If my heart is broken for the things that His heart is broken for, then I’m probably more in line with what He’s like.”

Helping the Katrina victims has given Bryant a feeling like no other.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be a servant of His. The Bible talks about being the hands and feet of Christ,” Bryant said.

Bryant, a vice president and photographer for Red Rocket Media Group in Windsor, has two Red Rocket employees — Anne Marks, 24, of Windsor and Amanda Ferri, 28, of Fort Collins — who will make the trip to Mississippi with the Crossroads group. This is the first time the two women have volunteered for something like this.

“Ever since it happened I’ve had a burning desire to do something. I don’t necessarily have a lot of money that I can just give for somebody else to do it,” Marks said. “This is an opportunity to spend a little bit of money and work in a way I feel capable of helping.”

Ferri said she’s often felt compelled to help during such situations, but she didn’t know how to go about it.

“I wanted to go down there, but didn’t know how I could get down there,” Ferri said. “I donated some money and I know that helps out a lot, but I think it really says something when you can actually go down there and put your sweat into it.”

To volunteer in the on-going relief efforts, call 970-674-0079.