Allen puts seminary plans on hold to continue storm relief efforts


Courtney Allen
Church Affiliation: Trinity United Methodist Church, Gulfport
Favorite Verse: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good;  and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8
Quote: “Being involved in (Hurricane) Katrina relief efforts at Trinity has provided one of the richest and deepest experiences of my life. Although being on the coast is one of the last places on earth that I ever thought I would be, I would not trade my experiences here for any in the world. 

"Each day I have the opportunity to do exactly what I’m passionate about: responding to the call of God’s hurting people.” 

Courtney Allen graduated from Vanderbilt University in June 2005. Three months later God called her to assist in the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast. Initially she worked in Pass Christian with a volunteer relief group distributing essential items to the survivors. Since December 2005, she has been serving as the rebuilding coordinator for the Katrina Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding program at Trinity UMC in Gulfport. Supported by nationwide financial contributions, the program is designed to assist hurricane victims in rebuilding their homes primarily by providing volunteer labor and materials. 

Allen receives requests for assistance, purchases materials and tools and schedules the work for the teams of volunteers that are being housed and fed in the church’s Christian Life Center. She works closely with another staff member and church volunteer who provide the logistical support for the work teams and with people of all ages and walks of life. 

Allen juggles many tasks that often require long hours and weekends. At times there are 50 to 60 people on board working on six to eight projects. A contractor said, “I do this kind of work for a living every day. I don’t see how Courtney does it.” 

To date, more than 600 homes have been worked on since she came on board. The homeowners represent a cross-section of the community in terms of race, socio-economic status and church affiliation. She has demonstrated great patience and flexibility in the face of the many unanticipated glitches and changes that occur. 

Allen is a gifted communicator both on a personal level and before groups of people.  She has spoken to the church council and before the entire congregation at Trinity, providing updates regarding the rebuilding efforts and encouraging participation. She has been invited to several churches outside of Mississippi to explain the rebuilding program and to recruit volunteers to serve on mission work teams.  

Allen has touched many lives in many different ways. A college student who was at Trinity on a work team remarked that she could “see Christ in Courtney and wanted to be just like her.” Many individuals have returned, again and again to work with Allen. 

Her experiences at Trinity in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have given Allen direction and galvanized her lifelong plans to enter the ministry. She has been admitted to both Duke and Wake Forest Divinity schools for the fall. Recently she decided to postpone her admission to Wake Forest until January so that she can help as many Katrina victims as possible to rebuild their homes. 

“I can go to divinity school at a later time, but these families need help getting back into their homes right now,” she said.