Make The Connection

Student Individualized Project Grant / Mission Trips: Experiences in El Salvador

April 3, 2015 – by Katie Nunner '15

Kassidy Spring ’15 has visited Love & Hope three times while at Ohio Wesleyan.

Learn how OWU’s Course Connections, Travel-Learning Courses, Theory-to-Practice Grants, and other programs prepare students for global citizenship and leadership and help them…Make the Connection.

For at least a decade, Ohio Wesleyan students have been visiting El Salvador for spring break mission team experiences. In March, a group worked at the Love & Hope Children’s Home, which cares for children not able to be fully cared for by their biological families. (Photo courtesy of Kassidy Spring ’15)

Kassidy Spring ’15 has visited Love & Hope three times while at Ohio Wesleyan.

Name: Kassidy Spring ’15
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Dover, Ohio
Experience: Student Individualized Project Grant, Spring Break Mission Trips to Love & Hope Children’s Home and Hospital Nacional San Raphael, in El Salvador, Spring and Summer 2014 and Spring 2015

Lessons Learned:

“Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ In fall 2013, I was walking down the JAYwalk during the mission fair and decided to grab an application. I had friends who had all gone on trips the year before, but it had never been something I had considered until that point. I applied and got accepted to the mission team going to Love & Hope Children’s Home in El Salvador.

“That week, along with spending time getting to know the kids and the staff at the home, our project was to paint and do some repairs at one of the kid’s schools. It amazed me that although the children’s home had needs of its own, it sent a team who came to help it out to help others in the community. …

“It was clear when I returned home after that week that my life had been changed and had been opened up to new ideas of what was necessary. I decided to return this summer (2014) for six weeks and applied and received a Student Individualized Project (SIP) Grant from OWU.

“During that time, I stayed at the home and was in charge of helping out with the little boys. We were also able to make a connection with the local hospital. I walked there a few times each week in the mornings to help in the mental health area with group therapies for children with ADHD and for women who had experienced sexual abuse. I also was asked the first week to speak to a group of pregnant teenagers. Their patience and willingness to include me and to allow me to take part in their groups was outstanding and was an experience that was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

“[For spring break 2015], I re-proposed the team to Love & Hope. It was accepted, and I had the outstanding opportunity to be the logistics leader for nine other amazing individuals to go back to a place that means so much to me. We were able to visit the hospital I worked in this summer, and it was amazing to see the impact I had left that I absolutely never expected. It is the most exciting and fulfilling feeling to be able to share something that means so much to you with other people and for those people to be able to share in the passion you have found.

“Love & Hope Children’s Home was started by Rachel Sanson from Cleveland, Ohio, when she was 20 years old. Hearing her story and getting to know her has been so inspiring throughout the last year of my life. Her faith has guided all of her decisions and is what gives her the strength and courage to succeed at battles most people could not even imagine.

“Love & Hope is home to 23 children ages 6 to 19, and despite their backgrounds of abuse and/or neglect, they are just like any other kids you will ever meet. They are happy and loving and can kick butt at soccer. Their acceptance, patience, and kindness toward me really lends to the meaning of unconditional love. …

“So, why does an experience like this matter? Because it will change you in a way that you would never expect, and not only will it change you, but it will change the people around you as well. It’s not something you can go into with expectations because an experience like this will defy any expectations and will give you something much more meaningful and transformative than you could have anticipated.

“I want to thank OWU and the Chaplain’s Office for this amazing start as I know that this is only the kindling to the fire that will be lit from my experiences with Love & Hope Children’s Home.”