A call to serve
Spring Break is traditionally a time for students to focus on themselves and to get some rest and relaxation before the final weeks of the semester. However, for nine Bluffton University students, the week was all about service to others.
“It is good to take a timeout from the real world and take some time to reflect and give back,” said Maria Hernandez ’19, a math major from Alamo, Texas.
Bluffton University students took part in two campus-sponsored service trips. Campus pastor Stephen “Tig” Intagliata led a group of four students to Pennsylvania, and Louise and Lawrence Matthews led five members of the service organization SERVE on a trip to Detroit.
In Pennsylvania, the students spent the first part of spring break at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, a Christian Retreat outside of Pittsburgh.
The group beautified the retreat center by clearing brush, trimming trees and organizing storage areas in preparation for spring retreats.
“We were making the area beautiful and inviting so people can experience God in nature,” said Intagliata.
Participants were: Hernandez; Morganne Faler ‘19, an early childhood education and intervention specialist major from Huntsville, Ohio; Nathan Thomas ’16, a physics and math major from Lebanon, Ohio; and Stacy Freed ’18, a history major from Elida, Ohio.
“The trip helped me expand my outlook on life and opened my eyes to new things. I loved gaining close friendships with the others that went on the trip,” said Faler.
During the second part of their trip, the students rehabbed homes for Habitat for Humanity in Pittsburgh.
Hernandez said that portion of the trip reminded her of all the people that helped her family succeed as she grew up.
“I feel that they best way I can help out now is to make them proud by paying it forward,” said Hernandez.
Five students participated in the Mennonite Disaster Service trip to Detroit. Malika Thompson ’18, a Spanish and business administration major from Cincinnati, Ohio; Greg Koviak ’17, a social work major from Clyde, Ohio; Patricia Latimer ’16, a chemistry major from New Bremen, Ohio; Courtney Duer ’16, a social work major from Delphos, Ohio; and Ryan Johnson-Evers ’16, a biology major from Muskego, Wisc.
In Detroit, the students worked alongside other MDS volunteers cleaning and restoring flooded basements.
“The first couple of days, I will admit that I did groan at the thought of doing a full week of eight hour days,” said Koviak, who put up dry wall and mudded walls in previously mold-infested basements. However, “I got to learn about the process of repair and it definitely gave me experience for the future. I enjoyed interacting with my co-volunteers and knowing that the work done on the basements would make a difference.”
The trips challenged the students physically, mentally and spiritually. However, Thompson says group devotional time in the morning helped her get through the day.
“Every morning we woke up, we prayed, we ate breakfast and had devotional time,” said Thompson. “Every day we devoted ourselves and our work to Jesus Christ. I believe that was the reason why our projects were so successful.”
Every morning we woke up, we prayed, we ate breakfast and had devotional time. Every day we devoted ourselves and our work to Jesus Christ. I believe that was the reason why our projects were so successful.”