Photo Credit Haley Schuman (used with permission)
AHN has been sending girls on Mission Trips to varying locations in and out of the U.S. since 1998. These trips give Academy girls the opportunity to serve others and make an impact, big or small, on the people that they encounter.
Junior Julia Lee, and Seniors Reilly Sleater and Sophia Mastro are leading 15 girls on a brand new trip to Costa Rica. The girls will fly into Libera, Costa Rica and will be driven to Playa Samara where they will walk to their service work. The girls will work through the CREAR Association that provides supplemental education and recreational career opportunities for members of the rural beach communities surrounding Playa Samara in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
Junior, Aleeza Garcia, relays her excitement about the brand new mission trip, splurging, “We are all extremely excited for the Costa Rica trip and we know that it will be an unforgettable experience.”
One of the farthest traveling mission trips flies 20 upperclassmen to La Victoria in the Dominican Republic. The girls visit impoverished families and children, work on house repairs, and spend time with the young children in the area. Missionaries are able to meet the Sisters of Schoenstatt whose mission is to lead the world back to Christ through love and service while experiencing the culture of La Victoria during their stay.
The Mississippi mission trip lives out the SNJM mission by rehabilitating schools, clinics, and houses in need of cleaning or car. The 17 girls that travel to Jonestown also play with neighborhood children and meet with teenage girls to discuss their education and future. Last year the girls who traveled to Mississippi were surprised by extreme flooding and the conditions many people’s houses were in.
Although the missionaries could not help everyone who was affected by the flooding, they did visit many families that were damaged by the flooding.
The 18 AHN girls attending the Appalachia trip fly to Pipestem, West Virginia to work at the Appalachian South Folklife Center to rehabilitate a home for a family or group that cannot afford the renovation costs. The girl’s phones are taken when they arrive at Pipestem giving the girls an opportunity to build new connections and strengthen their bonds with one another. Opposed to Florida’s warmer climate, missionaries to experience the colder Appalachian weather.
Junior Alessandria Ligori believes that the trip made everyone build new friendships, adding, “All of us are connected because of that trip, it was the first time we all really got to know each other.”
The North Carolina trip consists of 30 missionaries that depart at the crack of dawn for a 12-hour bus ride from Florida to Black Mountain North Carolina. Attendees sleep in cabins where they bunk together and are able to bond with girls from varying grade levels that they are not very close to. The work on this trip is mainly physical; the girls work at a Catholic Church and a home for orphaned children cleaning up the surrounding landscape and any other chores that need to be done. At the end of the trip the attendees are lucky enough to participate in an off-site zipline and rope course adventure.
In 2015, 24 missionaries attended Ruskin driven in vans to Arcadia and Wimauma Florida to work with the kids of migrant workers in day care, help with landscape, and any other physical tasks needed. This year the girls are staying at Mary Help of Christians at Heart of Tampa while still doing the work in Ruskin like the previous years.
Heart of Tampa
The 20 girls chosen for Heart of Tampa are dropped off every morning at Mary Help of Christians where they work on construction projects such as animal care, stable maintenance and refurbishing the paintings on buildings. There is a special daily prayer service and a nightly self-reflection service to allow the girls to reflect and gain insight about the service they are doing.
Junior Talia Sharrieff reveals, “My group for Heart of Tampa was the best possible combination of girls. When we weren’t working we were playing cards and genuinely enjoying each other’s company without the distraction of our phones and outside drama.”
The 15 missionaries chosen for the Scranton trip fly to Scranton, Philadelphia to meet the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters that guide them through their service. The girls work with service agencies in the area that help locals in economic need. The service includes working in pantries, cleaning, mural painting, and interacting with children. The girls not only get to interact with children and locals but are able to bond with the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The girls who give their all on these trips truly live out Academy’s service mission and make an impact everywhere they go.