SHU Community Continues Tradition of Spring Break Mission Trips
While some college students choose to go on vacation for spring break, many students and staff from Sacred Heart University spend their holiday working for the betterment of others.
The highlight of this year's trips will be the mission to El Salvador, as 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of this program. Since the first trip in 1992, SHU’s dedication has helped construct two chapels, funded various medical ventures, such as providing support for health clinics, and helped to fund educational institutions.
“This year’s focus is education,” says Office of Volunteer Programs’ Margaret Casey, coordinator for the El Salvador trip. “SHU students and staff have been collecting different school supplies, such as textbooks, pens and pencils to take with them to El Salvador.”
The SHU community has also raised $15,000 through fundraisers, and they hoped to reach $20,000 before their trip. The money will be used to fund various projects that will help benefit the community in El Salvador.
“I heard a lot about this trip through friends who had gone in previous years,” said Business Administration and Sport Management major Sara Gerrity. “Everyone I talked with spoke of a life changing experience, which I want to experience myself.”
The volunteers, consisting of 15 students and four advisors, departed JFK on March 4th for the one-week mission trip. A typical day may consist of working outdoors, which is done early in the morning in order to escape high temperatures, visits to local farmers and health clinics and tours of different educational institutions.
“We always tell students not to take the trip with the expectation of fixing problems down there but with the expectation of learning from the El Salvadoran people,” said Casey. “If they want to get an unforgettable and moving experience, they should listen to the people because each person has a story to tell.”
In addition to the mission trip to El Salvador, a number of students, faculty and staff will also travel domestically to lend helping hands in different Habitat for Humanity trips. One group will be traveling to Arkansas to help build homes for those in need.
Third-year Biology major, Natasha Sousa, has taken four volunteer trips during her time at SHU, but this year’s trip to Arkansas will be her first during spring break and her first as a student leader. “I have been planning a bunch of activities for my group such as a concert, a ride in a hot air balloon and a trip to the Lincoln Library. The most important thing on this trip is that we all have a good time and help make life better for others,” she said.
This year, 18 students and two advisers will be making the trip to Arkansas. The group will stay in a house, built by the Habitat for Humanity organization in Saline County, Arkansas.
Jeff Daley, a sophomore Media Studies major, is going to Arkansas on his first Habitat trip. “I am looking forward to making new friends, completing a habitat house and, most importantly, having fun.”
Aside from Arkansas, SHU is also hosting Habitat trips in Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee during spring break.