20 years of service continues with 2013 Spring Break trips

HUNTINGTON, Ind. Spring Break is just a few days away, and as students head their separate ways, several Huntington University students, faculty and a few alumni will spend their break serving those less fortunate than themselves.

In its 20 years of existence, the Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service has sent volunteers to multiple locations to serve. Spring Break 2013, March 25-29, is no different. The JMC plans on sending teams to three locations: Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., and Haiti.

Los Angeles is not just for Hollywood. This year, it will be the site of service for eight HU volunteers.

For one week, students and faculty will spend each morning working with the Center for Student Missions, serving breakfast in soup kitchens and working with a resident in a local retirement facility. The team will then spend their afternoons working with the afterschool program for Door of Hope, a Christian transitional housing program for families in Pasadena and Glendale.

Team members include Samantha Beerbower, EunSoo Kim, Emily Myers, Maria Pavon Guzman, Connor Slavicek, Dr. Tanner Babb, assistant professor of psychology, Jodi Fiedler, Campus Ministries administrative secretary, and Campus Pastor Arthur Wilson.

On the other side of the country, nine volunteers on the Nashville trip will be working with the local Rescue Mission, a homeless ministry that provides a shelter, as well as a clothing donation center and a soup kitchen. The team will be washing laundry, sorting clothes and providing a direct ministry on the streets of Nashville by distributing meals and building one-on-one relationships with the homeless. At night, the team will help with the Christian worship service held on the streets.

"I am expecting really big things for this trip," said Nashville team leader and junior Gina Boucouras. "God has been so faithful to provide for us in truly amazing ways so far. Just seeing all of the amazing stuff God has done leading up to our trip makes me excited to see what He has in store for us on the trip."

Her dream is that the students on the trip will be awakened to needs that the homeless have in the United States.

"We have a wide variety of experience on our trip; some people have never been on a missions trip and some have a large amount of missions experience," she said. "I think for that reason, God will speak to everyone in a different way and so I am excited to see the different takeaways people have from our time in Nashville."

Team members include Gina Boucouras, Niki Beere, Kati Frankle, Kristina Moore, Jessie Perry, Preston Shafer, Molly Williams, Jacob Willinger and Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry.

Abroad, a team is returning to Haiti to serve with Mission of Hope, an organization founded by Brad and Vanessa Johnson, 1993 and 1994 HU graduates, which strives to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Haitian population. Accompanying the team of 15 students will be Vince Haupert, vice president for advancement, his brother, Jason Haupert and Dr. Jerry Clore, a dentist and 1979 alum. Other team members include, trip leader, Kelly Stace, Brad Barber, Hannah Bowles, Logan Bush, Emily Carbaugh, Katherine Eckhoff, Haley Glinz, Moriah Haglund, Essie Kaufman, Becca Perhai, Jamie Schreur, Will Stauffer, Jordan VanEngen, Matt Whitney and Jason Wright.

"We hope the trips will inspire a heart of lifetime service in our students, change the way they see people in need, and help to meet the needs of the community we are serving," McBrayer said.