Two teams of Ohio Wesleyan students spent their spring break completing service projects. One team worked with the Lakota Youth Development organization in South Dakota, and the other helped to rebuild a hurricane-damaged home in Texas. (Photo by Brian Rellinger)

On a Mission

Ohio Wesleyan Students Spend Spring Break in Service to Others

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – Two teams of Ohio Wesleyan University students spent a week helping others as part of OWU’s annual Spring Break Service Week program.

The groups traveled between March 5 and 13, and gathered together March 23 to share images and insights from their experiences.

Before the teams left, and again at the return celebration, they received blessings from University Chaplain Chad Johns, director of Spring Break Service Week, who shared a traditional Franciscan blessing:

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships … with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people and the earth … with tears to shed for those who suffer so you will reach out your hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy,” Johns said. “And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so you will do the things which others say cannot be done.”

This year’s team destinations, missions, and members were:

Lakota Nation, South Dakota – “Building and Rebuilding”

The group worked with the Lakota Youth Development, a nonprofit organization located on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation. The organization works to help reclaim “Lakota language, culture, and spirituality by promoting education and healthy lifestyles for our youth through culturally based strategies.”

  • Callia Barwick of Canfield, Ohio, student team leader – Read her reflections
  • Lauren Barnes of Groveport, Ohio
  • Roe Black of Pasadena, California
  • SK Bulander of Los Angeles, California
  • Meredith Frymyer of Ostrander, Ohio
  • Alyssa Head of Houston, Texas
  • Christian Tesnow of Great Falls, Virginia
  • Thy Tran of Columbus, Ohio

The Lakota Nation team traveled with faculty-staff advisers David Soliday, instructional technologist, and Tami Panhuis, Ph.D., associate professor of Biological Sciences.

Houston, Texas – “Disaster Recovery with SBP”

The group worked with SBP, a nonprofit co-founded in New Orleans by OWU alumnus Zack Rosenburg, Class of 1995, to assist with hurricane recovery efforts. The students spent the week helping to rebuild a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, exploring issues of community building, and learning more about national and global responsibility for disaster restoration.

  • Graham Steed of Marion, Ohio, student logistics leader – Read his reflections
  • Faith Deschamps of East Orange, New Jersey, student reflections leader
  • Meg Edwards of Columbus, Ohio
  • Hannah Green of Deerfield, Illinois
  • Brooke Hall of Julian, Pennsylvania
  • Ava Hurd of Grove City, Ohio
  • Ben Neher of Greeley, Colorado
  • Millie Rocco of Vancleave, Mississippi
  • Deshawn Rode of Galena, Ohio
  • Myles Steed of Marion, Ohio

The Houston team traveled with faculty-staff advisers Newton Kimberly, a 2013 Ohio Wesleyan graduate and career catalyst for the university’s Career Connection, and Christopher Mickens, assistant director of Public Safety.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Interfaith Service program at owu.edu/InterfaithService.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature program, The OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “Best Colleges” lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at owu.edu/experts or learn more at owu.edu.