Huntington University team volunteers in Belize

Huntington, Ind.—Eleven students, two faculty, one alumnus, and two parents from Huntington University chose to spend their spring break in a nation in need.

Group members include (front row, left to right) Anna Grace Jeeter, Abby Waterbury, Katie Razor, Jessica Palmer, Dr. Norris Friesen, (second row, left to right) Sara Ellett, Trista Watson, John Key (CSI),
(third row, left to right) Nicole Blue, Christina Brooks, (fourth row, left to right) John Johnson (Ben’s dad), Adam Shoemaker, Ben Johnson, Sam Key, Andy Vaught, and Jim O’Donnell.
Dr. Norris Friesen, vice president and dean, and Prof. Jim O’Donnell, associate professor of business, lead a team of Huntington University volunteers to the Central American country of Belize.

The group has been working at Port Loyola Preschool in a poor neighborhood of Belize City. The facility is the target of frequent break-ins and vandalism. Huntington volunteers fixed windows, painted over graffiti, filled in playground sand, and played with the children. They also hosted an after-school Bible study program with neighborhood children.

Abby Waterbury paints numbers at the Port Loyola Preschool. The project was to add some color to the outside walls.
“We have been through so much disaster and for us to be blessed like this – it is very motivating,” said Gwendolyn Jones, principal of Port Loyola Preschool. “It makes us want to come to work. Like yesterday morning I woke up very, very early to come to school because I felt so good, because we have always wanted our school to look the best for the children.”

The team coordinated their work with Huntington University alumna Lisa Stout and her husband, Andy, who are working in Belize under the auspices of the Friends Church. The trip was organized in cooperation with Christian Service International.

The team left last week and will return this weekend. The following students were participants:

Jessica Palmer spends time with two girls at the Bible school hosted by the Friends Boys School.
Andy Vaught, a senior Bible and religion major from Roanoke, Ind.

Adam Shoemaker, a junior entrepreneurship and small business double major from Sheridan, Ind.

Trista Watson, a sophomore visual arts education major from Chambersburg, Pa.

Katie Razor, a sophomore from Humble, Texas, double majoring in educational ministries and family and children’s ministries

Sam Key, a freshman undecided major from Marion, Ind.

Sara Ellet, a junior youth ministries major from Huntington, Ind.

Christina Brooks, a sophomore undecided major from Fort Wayne, Ind.

Nicole Blue, a sophomore accounting major from Middlebury, Ind.

Ben Johnson teaches basic basketball skills at the Bible school.
Jessica Palmer, a sophomore youth ministries major from Hampshire, Ill.

Anna Grace Jeter, a junior English education major from Findlay, Ohio

Abby Waterbury, a junior elementary education major from Blissfield, Mich.

Comments from Abby Waterbury, a student who went on the trip:

"The person that meant the most to me was Teacher Gwen. She was the principal and a teacher at the preschool that we worked at. She and I had quite a few conversations about her school and how much she just loved the kids there and would do anything for them. She tried to make the best of their school for her kids, and I just thought I was great to see such love pour out from one woman to those kids. She put all that she had into teaching, and she knew that God gave her the strength to continue on in her struggles."

"I do think it is important for me at least to participate in mission trips. I know that for every trip I have gone on God has shown me something new about Himself and about me. I know that the trips I have taken would never be able to be replaced with anything else."

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).  


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