This July, eleven Spring Hill College alumni helped realize a vision that had been nearly twelve months in the making. Accompanied by Fr. RV Baylón, SJ, Spring Hill campus minister and faculty member, the group embarked on a week-long trip to Belize City in Central America, as part of the college’s inaugural International Service Immersion Program (ISIP) alumni trip. Befitting Spring Hill’s commitment to service, the experience offered participants the opportunity to make a direct global impact in the lives of others.
Spring Hill College has had a longstanding relationship with Hand in Hand Ministries, which is based out of Louisville, Ky. Each spring, since 2004, Spring Hill College students, faculty and staff have served others in Belize by building a 16 x16 wooden house for a family in need of sturdy and safe shelter.
Year after year, student participants have found the experience to be both powerful and transformative. So it came as no surprise that a group of Spring Hill’s alumni expressed a deep and persistent desire to initiate an alumni version of the trip.
Alumni from the classes of 1979, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014 composed this year’s cohort. Some participants had completed ISIP trips as Spring Hill undergraduates and wanted another opportunity to serve, while other members were new to the experience and were motivated by the feedback from past participants.
While in Belize City, they built a house for Natalie, a single mother of six children. During the three days spent on the home’s construction, Natalie continued to share her joy and gratitude with the group for being given the opportunity to realize her dream of home ownership. On the third day of construction, and after a simple house blessing, alumni were rewarded with the enthusiastic smiles from Natalie and her family.
The alumni group also assisted with construction on the three-story Hand in Hand office building. Once finished, it will house the main offices of the organization and serve as the Outreach Day Care Center for children in the area.
In addition to paying their own expenses as well the cost of building materials to construct the house, participants also gave a donation to Spring Hill’s Campus Ministry. Money collected will benefit students selected to participate in the service and immersion program during the school’s 2017 spring break.
During the trip, participants completed two excursions to experience the natural beauty of the country of Belize, attended Mass at St. Martin de Pores, the Jesuit parish in Belize City, and toured the campus of St. John’s College, a Jesuit school.
The success of this inaugural trip bodes well for future alumni service and immersion trips. Discussions are already underway for a 2017 trip to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Jamaica, or a return to Belize.