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Students Do Service Over Spring Break

Posted on March 18th, 2008

They basked in the warm southern sun, but not at any beachfront locations.

Y-trip students in Florida
EMU students reflect on the sunset at Lakewood Retreat, Brooksville, Fla., a program of Southeast Mennonite Conference

Four groups of EMU students spent their mid-semester break the first week of March doing service projects under the auspices of the Young People’s Christian Association (YPCA).

The students shared highlights of their experience in university chapel Wednesday, Mar. 12.

‘Volunteering is Rewarding’

Eleven EMU students worked at Lakewood Retreat, Brooksville, Fla., a program of Southeast Mennonite Conference, cleaning facilities and doing general cleanup work around the camping facility.

Y-trip student Alec Burkey in Florida
EMU student Alec Burkey prepares to do some heavy metal work in Florida on truck parts in disrepair. By the end of the group’s stay, Burkey had the truck up and running, saving the camp money in repair fees.

“Volunteering is rewarding – seeing hard work pay off, how much was accomplished in a short time and giving yourself to a worthy cause,” said Michael Charles, a junior from Lancaster, Pa.

Seven other students did manual labor for Jubilee Partners, an intentional Christian community in Comer, Ga., and related to local immigrants that the group ministers to.

“For me, this week was a time of seeing God in a different way through the people we met, through singing and other activities,” said Heidi Hershberger, a sophomore from Boyertown, Pa.

Repairing Katrina Homes With MDS

Mobile, Ala., was the destination for nine students, led by Nick Meyer and supported by Eldon R. Kurtz, physical plant director at EMU, and his wife Sharri. The group divided into three smaller work teams to repair homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina under the auspices of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).

Y-trip student Alec Burkey in Florida
EMU student Kim Gross tackles some greenery during her stay in Florida.

“It was a great change of pace from studies,” said Nick Meyer, a senior from Harrisonburg, Va. “We did more than just home repair work, but grew spiritually through the experience.”

“Hearing stories from people who had experienced major loss made us thankful for all that we have,” he added. “We also had a lot of fun.”

‘God Taught Us a Lot’

Eight students traveled to Wilmington, Del., to assist in an after-school program run by Urban Promise. They cleaned classrooms and interacted with children from pre-K to junior high age in the inner-city program.

“God taught us a lot,” said Jessica (Jess) Sarriot, a first-year student from Jerusalem. “I learned to respect and appreciate what teachers do in relating to kids in a new way.”

In addition to the service teams’ ministry, the EMU Chamber Singers spent the mid-semester break giving programs of worship in music in nine locations in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

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