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Alternative Spring Break Groups to Visit Cities, Mexico for Collaborative Outreach

a home in Ciudad Juarez, MexicoMembers of His House Christian Fellowship, a registered student organization at Ferris State University pose with the family who received a home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, built during spring break 2019. Big Rapids' Wesley House and the Newman Center campus ministry also have spring break outreach plans in New Orleans and Chicago, respectively.

Hundreds to thousands of miles of travel are ahead for members of three Ferris State University registered student organizations, who intend to participate in nonprofit outreach endeavors during spring break.

The largest contingent departing Big Rapids is from His House Christian Fellowship, which will involve as many as 39 students, staff and other supporters of project work with Casas Por Cristo, an El Paso, Texas-based nonprofit. Campus minister Mitchell Robey said they plan to build two single-family homes while in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

“This is my 21st such trip, whether we take students during the summer, or on spring break,” Robey said. “Students from Michigan Tech are joining our group for this year’s program. When we arrive, the ground will be clear, and we will erect and complete these houses during our time in Juarez.”

A group of 26 will take part in the outreach planned by Wesley House, in Big Rapids, in cooperation with peers from Central Michigan University. Wesley House Pastor Kim Bos said last year’s destination was Panama City, Florida, and their plan for 2020 spring break week is in and near New Orleans.

“We try to go to a different place every year, so our students can be persons of faith with experiences from a variety of settings,” Bos said. “There will be community work with nonprofits at several locations during our trip.”

Jordan Brinker, a Communications major from Oxford, said she enjoyed the Panama City spring break trip.

“That was a really cool experience,” Brinker said. “I got to meet a pastor at one of our stops, whose daughter was nonverbal. During my conversations with him, she would react both positively and negatively, based on her feelings. That was very impactful.”

First-year Journalism/Technical Communications major Meghan Hartley, of Grandville, said heading to New Orleans, and nearby outreach locations will be a significant cultural exposure for her.

“I understand that we will be doing some volunteering in wetlands, along with our assignment in New Orleans,” Hartley said. “Personally, I can do without seeing any snakes, alligators or wild hogs.

Wesley House members conducted several fundraising events to support their trip.

“I am really excited about this experience, building on the Key Club activities I had during much of my high school years,” Hartley said. “I know we will be assisting at a ranch for abused horses, doing some replanting projects in a wetlands area and helping schoolchildren with their homework.”

The Newman Center campus ministry is continuing its relationship with the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. First-year Nuclear Medicine student Kalyn Larva, of Sparta, said work sessions will involve various projects from around the convent.

“We expect to support completing their daily chores along with offering outreach to the homeless in that area,” Larva said. “This will be the first kind of experience I have had like this. I am excited to be involved in this opportunity.”