Saint Xavier University’s (SXU) Campus Ministry visited Belize from May 13 to May 20 on a service trip where they were tasked with constructing a home for a family in need. Eight students and two advisors represented SXU on the trip, and the group was able to successfully build the home as a part of the volunteer organization Hand in Hand Ministries. On the trip, they were able to grow closer in their faith and learn about Belizean culture along the way.
Deirdre Kleist, director of Campus Ministry, enjoyed serving alongside students and watching them work together to see their plan to fruition. “It is a gift to watch students step outside their comfort zone, work hard, embrace a new culture and build friendships with one another,” said Kleist.
Second-time volunteer Lisette Carrera felt that the trip allowed her to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and focus her attention on a new culture. “This trip has made me realize that even eight students from a small private university can bring a huge amount of hope to a family,” said Carrera. “Hand in Hand Ministries and the people of Belize gave me the drive to continue to serve my own community.”
While the trip was full of memories and positive experiences, the moment that stood out most in volunteer Isabella Martucci’s mind was one she will never forget.
“We had to load the truck with the four outside and one inside wall and assemble it at the location of the house,” remembers Martucci. “It was incredible to see how the four walls went up because with all the support we had, we were able to put up the four walls in less than two hours.”
A longtime participant of service trips, Tara Luczak noted that handing over the keys to the newly built home was the greatest moment of the trip when she said, “We gave them a keychain so that the family would be able to remember us, but they said that they now have a house to remember us by.”
Graduate assistant minister Adelinne Whittenhall was able to see how big of an impact a small group of people can have. “This trip showed me that when members of various nations can join together for a common cause, a new level of hope is achieved,” said Whittenhall.
After seeing the results of all of their hard work, Kleist hopes to continue to offer students opportunities such as this one.
“I am definitely motivated to continue finding and creating opportunities for students to serve,” said Kleist. “Down the road I’d love to work with other departments at the university to help facilitate new and different trips to keep expanding the global reach of SXU.”