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Categorized | Featured Stories

Alumna makes differences

Posted on 18 February 2012 by Samantha Severo

There are people all over the world who are greatly in need of help. It is often hard to understand the benefits of being able to help these people without first seeing how in need they truly are.

For Abby Honaker, Mount Union alumna and Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA in the Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, she was able to see first-hand what kind of help the people of El Salvador needed.

Honaker was one of the many students who went on Dr. Kramer’s Social Responsibility Trip, something that has been occurring for nearly 30 years.

After learning about El Salvador’s needs, she has taken it upon herself to collect shoes from the Mount Union community and beyond to send with the students when they go back this year.

What Honaker experienced on this trip was something that inspired her greatly. In the time she spent there with her peers, they were able to help the families and the communities of El Salvador and see how grateful they were for the help of others.

“The people there were incredibly loving and thankful,” said Honaker. “I was in the group that worked on building a house and even though I felt like I was in the way more than I helped, the men we worked with and the family we helped were so gracious.”

It was obvious that the amount of time and help they put towards these people made a difference. Being able to see the effects that come from your time and effort is greatly rewarding.

“Through smiles, jokes, broken Spanish, a translator and lots of laughing we made a difference,” said Honaker. “Additionally, I do not speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English so I was amazed at how well we communicated and understood each other.”

While simply seeing the graciousness of these families inspired Honaker, there was much more that she witnessed that inspired her to do as much as she could to help.

“While we were there we spent some time in the city but then went to a rural community to build a house and latrines,” she said. “The people there have less than I would have imagined with little or no electricity, animals that roam outside their homes, etc…  The children do go to school but some have an extremely long walk.  It is all very hard to explain without actually seeing it.”

Honaker would love to return to El Salvador someday, but for now, the collection of shoes is the best option.

“Since I can’t go back, I wanted to make sure I did something,” she said. “I am still in contact with our translator, but I have no way of knowing how the people in the village are doing or what they need. I knew I would do whatever I could to help them for the rest of my life but I didn’t really know how I would do it.”

For now, Honaker is collecting any type of shoes. Tennis shoes, boots or sandals are the most helpful, while shoes such as heels are impractical. However, any size and condition will work.

She will be sending down the donations she receives with the group that is going on this year’s trip.

“My hope is that they will all go to the village Mount Union students work in every year,” she said. “I want to know that I am still doing something for the precious children I met and their families.”

Another way to help the children of El Salvador is to donate money to Dr. Kramer and support Jail and Bail later this spring.  He only charges each student $400 to go on the trip and students and Dr. Kramer raise the rest.  It costs over $1,000 for each student to go because of travel expenses and the group pays for the supplies to build the projects that are worked on by the students.

“Last year I held a soup and salad lunch at my church that put $3,000 towards the trip,” said Honaker. “Things like donations and supporting fundraisers or friends who are going is a huge help. Even if it is only a couple of dollars, it all adds up.”

For more information or to learn where to donate shoes, contact Honaker at honakeal@mountunion.edu.

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