Rebuilding underway: reflecting on one year since the tornado

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By Kevin Gladstone, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Ursuline College

Just one year ago today, we were preparing for a long-awaited groundbreaking for the Center for the Creative and Healing Arts & Sciences.  All seemed to be right with the Ursuline College world:  funds had been raised, building designed, and our campus immersed in joyful anticipation of the coming school year.

Mother Nature had other plans. July 20, 2013 will live forever in the memory of those associated with Ursuline College.  Early that morning, in the blink of an eye, a tornado swept through our beautiful, tranquil campus and tore a hole in our heart.

We were, no doubt, staggered–for an instant. The damage was severe and devastating to campus buildings and trees.  Grateful that no one was injured, we assessed the destruction. Students, alums and friends, many in tears, were drawn to the College wanting to assist in some way.

After all, Ursuline College is a place that changes the lives of students who come here to learn, and by extension, changes the lives of all those people who are fortunate enough to come into contact with graduates of this small Catholic college in Pepper Pike, Ohio. You could feel the overwhelming sense of sadness as it weighed heavily on the once serene campus.

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Dazed but unfazed, passivity turned into quick action.  Closed for just one business day, the College reopened its doors to summer school and life returned to a pace consistent with the situation.  Day after day, activity increased.  A committee was formed to assist with all facets of the recovery process.  The Board of Trustees stepped up to lead and to contribute funds.   Workers were busy all over campus cleaning up to make it safe for all.  Another committee was formed to help with the necessary fundraising. Three million dollars has been raised with just $2 million left to reach our goal of $5 million.

Gratitude is the best word to summarize the past year.  We have come a long way thanks to the generosity of the community.  As we gaze upon the site of the former devastation, we see nothing but hope.  Soon, the building will be a visible sign of Ursuline’s resurgence.  Even the blue heron has returned to his rightful post, keeping a close eye on the campus lake which he calls home.

A huge thank you must be extended to all of you who have lent a hand in Ursuline’s rebuilding process.  Your prayer, your financial support, and your advice have made a difference for Ursuline College.  Please keep us in your prayers and philanthropic scope.

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