They "gave up" their mid-semester break to perform a labor of love in their own back yard, doing so willingly and with much satisfaction.
Every year for spring break, several student groups spend the nine-day period doing service projects in various locales in the states – under the auspices of the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA) – instead of going home or heading to warmer climes.
This year, for the first time, one group devoted the entire break to service projects right in Harrisonburg, Mar. 1-8. Listen to the March 11 chapel podcast featuring this and other spring break Y-trips!
EMU freshman Lucas Schrock-Hurst, (right), and his sister Grace Schrock-Hurst work on tiling the floor of Our Community Place.
Co-leaders Grace Schrock-Hurst and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger and Nathan Hershberger, Kaitlin Heatwole, Lucas Schrock-Hurst and Debbie Vasquez worked primarily with Our Community Place (OCP), a community center on N. Main St. across from The Little Grill collective restaurant.
They also related to New Bridges Immigrant Resource Center based at Community Mennonite Church.
At OCP, the students worked in the soup kitchen, helped organize activities for persons frequenting the center and laid tile in the main floor from a pattern designed by EMU sophomore Kaitlin Heatwole.
With New Bridges, the group took part in a panel on immigration issues and visited immigrants at a local trailer park.
The students lived for the week at the Dean House across Water Street from Community Mennonite Church. To add a "green" element to their efforts, They walked or rode bike everywhere they went rather than using cars. They even borrowed EMU recycling coordinator Jonathan Lantz-Trissel’s special cart to move their personal things from campus to the Dean House.
The group limited itself to bikes, walking and public buses for their modes of transportation during the service week in a concerted effort to be ‘green.’ (L to R): Lucas Schrock-Hurst, Rebecca Maldonado-Nofziger, Debbie Vasquez, Grace Schrock-Hurst, Kaitlin Heatwole, and Nathan Hershberger
"There’s so much we can do right here in Harrisonburg," said Grace Schrock- Hurst, a junior culture, religion and mission major from Harrisonburg. "When it’s over, we can continue the relationships we’ve started and learn more about the community.
"I would sum up our group’s experience in six words – surprising, humbling, challenging, enlightening, loving and beautiful," Schrock-Hurst added.
Four EMU students did Christian service projects at Hattie Larlham Center for children with severe disabilities, Mantua, Ohio. Another group of 10 spent the week at Jubilee Partners, a Christian intentional community in Comer, Ga., that works with refugees who settle in Atlanta.