Ferris students to provide assistance in Midwest, Southeast, Mexico

More than 50 Ferris State University students will be leaving the Big Rapids area to help others in Juarez, Mexico, Chicago and Slidell, La.. during the spring semester break. Members of His House Christian Fellowship, will be building single-family housing in Juarez, Mexico. (Courtesy photos)

Submitted to the Pioneer

BIG RAPIDS — Instead of planning a relaxing vacation for their spring break, more than 50 Ferris State University students will spend their recess from classes participating in activities to benefit residents of low-income areas or working to restore and create housing in storm-damaged or impoverished communities.

Members of the registered student organizations for His House Christian Fellowship, Newman Center from Saint Paul’s Catholic Church and Wesley House will leave Big Rapids late Friday afternoon and early evening, with plans to offer assistance in Juarez, Mexico, Chicago and Slidell, La., respectively. All of the groups will conclude their alternative spring break mission trips by Sunday, March 11.

Morgan Dodson, a junior in graphic media management from Kingsley, is public relations officer for students affiliated with Wesley House. She said this will be her first journey, though others in the group of 21 students have been to Slidell, an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dodson said the group will be assigned to a number of projects from drywall installation and simple construction to some more involved home-building assignments.

Approximately 20 members of Wesley House will be volunteering in Slidell, La., an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, during their spring break.

“I am really looking forward to helping our friends down south,” Dodson said. “I expect that it will be a very humbling experience.”

Dodson said Wesley House participants have individual fundraising campaigns to support their involvement, along with organizational efforts.

“We hold a golf outing each year, which assists the House’s general operation as well as our mission work,” Dodson said. “A cake auction is another of our fundraisers where a dozen donuts went for $75, and that kind of generosity really helps us with this cause.”

A dozen members of the Newman Center campus ministry will arrive in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood on Friday, March 2. Laura Hureski, a junior in Actuarial Science from Livonia, said this will be her third trip to the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels.

“Everyone who goes for the week loves it,” Hureski said. “We are very close with the sisters in this mission, which was started by the Franciscans of the Eucharist. Our assignments will include working in their after-school program, there is a weekly community dinner to put on, and we also volunteer for their mobile food pantry and clothing distribution operation.”

His House Christian Fellowship continues its longstanding relationship with Casas por Cristo, a nonprofit based in El Paso, Texas, by offering several days of service in Juarez. A group of 21 students will be joined by peers from Northern Michigan University and His House statewide staff to comprise a team of 31 people who will build single-family homes. Adam Dresden, a senior in surveying engineering from Midland, is returning for his third spring break of volunteering, having also spent Summer 2017 as an intern with Casas Por Cristo.

“I would rather be involved in this kind of activity than just go off on a vacation,” Dresden said. “These families have nothing compared to even a student’s resources and possessions. Many of the people being helped are around our age. Some of them have a child. So, it is fulfilling to be able to create and provide them a home.”

Dresden said while group members are on site, simple but functional housing will be developed for these families.

“There is some ‘sweat equity’ involved in certain cases, but we students generally take our lead from the project supervisors,” Dresden said. “In order to be efficient, Casas por Cristo has a very clearly defined method to create these homes.”

Ferris’ Spring 2018 semester classes resume on Monday, March 12.



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