Springing into service

By Erica Cantrell

Many students spend their spring break watching Netflix or catching up on all the sleep they sacrificed to study. This semester, however, a group of students has decided to be more generous with their free time.

Every spring break for the last five years, Campus Focus, a college ministry through The Chapel, has supported a mission trip to Juárez, Mexico. While there, students team up with a non-profit organization called Casas Por Cristo (Houses for Christ). Casas, based in El Paso, Texas, reaches out to many impoverished areas in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.

Casas uses volunteers to meet families’ basic needs for shelter and spirituality. Volunteer groups usually stay for one week to build a house for a local family. No experience is necessary; the Casas staff teaches the volunteers all they need to know.

This year The Chapel will be sending 40 volunteers, mainly students from The University of Akron, to build three houses for three different families. While in Juárez, visitors learn about the local culture by spending time with residents. They also play games with the local kids, such as “rock throw.”

As for the construction, volunteers will be taught to level the ground, lay a concrete foundation, and construct the wooden framework. They will also add exterior walls, tile the roof, drywall the inside, and stucco the outside of the house.

Students who have been on the trip before have a lot to say about it.

“It’s an exhausting experience,” said third year exercise science major Jared Mooney. “You go to bed tired every night, but knowing that you’re providing a physical need for someone who has never had a legitimate roof over their head is something that I’ll never forget.”

Most students who have gone on the trip before would agree that the experience is draining, but also rewarding in a way that seems to defy explanation. Everyone interviewed was very excited to be doing something that was changing the world in a positive way.

“It was, and probably still is, the most fulfilling thing I have done to date,” said freshman Chris Rymer.

A mission trip is not the only way to give back, though. A good deed, no matter the magnitude, can change the world a little bit at a time — whether you choose to do that by flying to another country to volunteer, or only shoveling your neighbor’s driveway.

So what are you doing this spring break?