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Alternative Spring Break Trips Afford Students and Alumni Opportunities for Service, Learning

PhotoThe His House Christian Fellowship team, a registered student organization from Ferris State University, looks to build another single-family home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, beginning Sunday, March 6. Their last trip in 2020 was the 23rd occasion they worked in support of Casas por Cristo, a Texas-based nonprofit. Ferris spring break runs March 5-13.

During spring break, heading south is a reflex response for many Ferris State University students. Approximately 20 of the thousands of students ready to depart for a week away from classes will include bonding time with their fellowship groups along with physical labor to improve the lives of others.

His House Christian Fellowship will continue its relationship with Casas por Cristo, an El Paso, Texas-based nonprofit. Kate Hogoboom, a 2012 graduate of Ferris’ Marketing program, is an administrative assistant for His House. She participated in similar trips as a student and said their traveling party heads out of Big Rapids Friday, March 4, as spring break officially starts on Saturday, March 5, and runs through Sunday, March 13.

“Our project this year will create the 53rd house that Ferris students have worked on over the years,” Hogoboom said. “This makes our 21st journey to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It is so cool to see places we have built, knowing that families can live in safe housing, which makes all the work and fundraising for these projects worth it.”

Hannah Haynes, an Accounting major from Traverse City, is a His House participant who traveled with the group’s project team in 2020.

“I loved the experience enough to make that long journey to Mexico, once again,” Haynes said. “It really gives you an opportunity to get close to your peers on the van ride; coming to understand the level of poverty in Ciudad Juarez was an entirely new experience. It makes you grateful for everything you have.”

Haynes said Casas por Cristo has made them aware of their supporting family by constructing this simple one-story structure.

“They currently live in a one-room plywood shed,” Haynes said. “When I went in 2020, I was very taken by a family member saying how happy they were to have a home with a locking door.”
His House student groups build homes in various Ciudad Juarez neighborhoods based on the available properties to the families involved.

PhotoWesley House students, who traveled to New Orleans in their last Spring Break excursion, will consider cycles of poverty while offering assistance to a family in Hayesville, North Carolina. Ferris spring break runs March 5-13.

Wesley House in Big Rapids will rally their spring break travelers to Lowell, where they will meet Saturday, March 5, with plans to depart early the following morning. Wesley House Pastor Kim Bos said they continue collaborating with Central Michigan University students and alumni. Big Rapids Wesley House will send 11 students and four supporters to Hayesville, North Carolina, along the Georgia border, two hours east of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“This trip is always the highlight of our program year, in terms of the opportunity it affords all of us,” Bos said. “This year, we will be helping an inter-generational family revise their home, as one resident needs an accommodation to safely exit and enter the property.”

After their construction project is complete, Bos said they plan to pursue group learning and fellowship.
“We look to explore the cycles of poverty, taking time to go through a poverty simulation,” Bos said. “We believe this trip offers valuable perspectives to our students and volunteers, along with a chance to really know each other better. Every year’s trip presents a lot of work, but it is always worthwhile.”