(SPOKANE, Wash.) — For the 10th consecutive year, 115 Gonzaga University undergraduate students and 15 faculty and staff advisers will embark tomorrow (Saturday) for eight sites nationwide where they will spend their entire spring break not relaxing but serving others. For the second straight year, 13 GU School of Law students leave today (Friday) for the Central American country of Honduras where they will work mostly in Lepaera, spending their spring break repainting health clinics, rebuilding brick ovens, and distributing donated school supplies to children.
This year’s Mission: Possible entourage of 128 students (from freshman-undergraduate to third-year law) and 15 advisers, is sponsored by Gonzaga’s Center for Community Action and Service-Learning. The 115 undergraduates will work on a variety of projects important to the following communities: St. Louis; Denver; Browning, Mont.; Tacoma, Wash.; Neah Bay, Wash.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Jonestown, Miss.; and Portland, Ore.
Despite the long travel time to Honduras for the law students – they won’t arrive in Honduras until Saturday afternoon – they are anxious to get started.
“This trip is an exciting way for us to gain exposures to other cultures while making service contributions consistent with GU Law’s commitment to helping underserved communities,” said Jenna Henderson, a second-year law student traveling to Honduras for the first time. “The great thing about Mission: Possible is that it benefits us and the communities we travel to.”
Both Mission: Possible contingents — the undergraduates and law students — are run by students who motivate others to become involved and provide enthusiasm and inspiration to their peers.
This spring, student coordinators for the undergraduates’ trips include Doug Bielemeier, Amber Curnow, Anthony DeLorenzo, Courtney Haia, Virginia Moore, Katie Mulcaire-Jones, Megan Rosenberger and Jason Vaughn.
The undergraduate student volunteers and advisers will work on projects including housing rehabilitation, painting, home weatherization, and other building repair initiatives. In addition, they will perform service work at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, work in community gardens, work with children, and assist in other important projects.
Both student groups have put in long hours since last spring planning and preparing for this trip, which lives out the Gonzaga Mission Statement call to be “men and women for others.” The money to support the program came from the students’ own fundraising efforts, which included events, letters of appeal, student contributions and (for the undergraduates) some University funds.
The law students have spent the past several months holding fundraisers to cover the nearly $10,000 in airfare costs alone. Members of the law students’ group must cover any deficit with their own funds.
“It’s been rather exhausting having a food sale nearly every week: soup, then tacos, and hot dogs after that,” said Raychelle Morrill, a third-year law student and president of the group. “But we stuck with it because we know we’re going there to make a difference.”
Morrill said she was fortunate to have gone on the trip last spring to Honduras.
“I can’t wait to go back,” Morrill said. “Being able to go somewhere that is so poor and so in need of our help and being able to provide some of that help is a great feeling. The people there are absolutely amazing. They are so poor and yet they are kind and warm and most of them are willing to give you anything they have. This is an amazing opportunity to provide service that will actually make a difference.”
Both groups are scheduled to return to campus by the time school starts again on Monday, March 17.
Misson: Possible was started in 1999 when GU undergraduate students and University Ministry collaborated to lead two community service trips. The first year, 27 Gonzaga undergraduate students and staff took part in the program, which has grown to eight sites and more than 100 participants annually.
After nine years of the program, there are now nearly 500 Gonzaga alumni who have experienced Mission: Possible. Brandon Roche, Law School Student Bar Association president, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras for two years and suggested Honduras as the destination for last year’s group.
For more information about the undergraduates’ trip, please contact Todd Dunfield at (509) 323-6396 or via e-mail at Dunfield@gonzaga.edu or Sima Thorpe at (509) 323-6856 or via e-mail at Thorpe@gu.gonzaga.edu. For more information about the law students’ trip, contact Raychelle Morrill, a GU law student, at (509) 599-5972 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.