Regional Honorable Mention
Month: March 2010
Community Service Program of the Month
Medical Mission Trip to Belize
||University of Virginia at Wise
|Person in charge:
||Layton Bentley, pastor
|Target Population: 30
||Time Needed to Organize: 2 semesters|
|Number of People in Attendance: 30
||Date(s) of Program: March 7-12, 2010|
|Number of People Needed to Organize: 2
||Cost of Program: $1,100 per person|
||Chapter Size: |
|Origin of Program:|
A little over one year ago, several students and other members of the
UVa-Wise community attended the institution’s very first medical mission
trip to Roaring Creek Village in central Belize. This trip in spring
2009 was the first of its kind. It wasn’t the first trip to Belize by
members of the UVa-Wise community, but it was the first medical trip
involving some of our very own nursing students.
Fast forward a year later – sring beak in March 2010. Students, staff,
and friends of the university returned to Belize for a second time in as
many years. The trip was again led by local pastor Layton Bentley and
pulmonologist Dr. Joe Frank Smiddy, son of chancellor emeritus “Papa
Joe” Smiddy. It was Bentley who began making mission trips to Belize
back before 2006. The focus of these trips has evolved over the years,
from the construction of buildings to the treatment of its people. And,
now, UVa-Wise students play a key role in the success of the mission trips.
Word Count: 170
|Please give a short description of the program:|
The medical mission trip to Belize exists as one of several
alternative spring break opportunities for UVa-Wise students to
participate in. Although it was open to any student, this trip was
targeted at nursing and pre-med students, as well as students involved
with the university’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM). This year,
three UVa-Wise Resident Advisors and other residents were among those
students who attended, not to mention Provost Gil Blackburn and Jim
Collie, director of the BCM. Twenty-nine students, professionals, and
community leaders attended this year’s medical mission trip.
Meetings were held in November to begin talking about the itinerary
for the trip. Students who came on board for the trip were required to
make regular payments until the $1,100 cost was paid for. The trip
involved flying from Atlanta to Belize on Saturday, March 6th and
spending the next five days working and volunteering in Roaring Creek.
While some sightseeing was scheduled into the itinerary, a vast
majority of the time was spent volunteering in one way or another.
The group of volunteers spent five days providing free medical care to
the poverty-stricken residents of Roaring Creek. According to Leah
Arthur, an RA who attended the trip, over 500 individuals were seen
and treated by Dr. Smiddy and the volunteers. In addition to tending
to the town’s medical needs, a large amount of time was spent tending
to the spiritual needs of these same people. Students, including Leah,
led devotionals and worship services on a nightly basis.
Some students on the trip, including Dru Morgan, a pre-med student at
UVa-Wise, chronicled their volunteer work in Belize through online
blogs and public forums. Dru’s blog in particular was so emotional and
engaging. Many of his family members and friends here in southwestern
Virginia were able to follow along as the medical mission group worked
Word Count: 306
|Goals of the program:|
There were so many goals to this mission trip. First and foremost,
the trip aimed to assist a poverty-stricken population by improving
the overall, long-term health of its residents. There were also an
abundance of tertiary goals. Not only did this trip provide an
opportunity for college students to develop practical skills and to
help others, but it gave them the chance to spend spring break in a
most productive and helpful way. The trip, in a lot of ways, taught
students and other volunteers the importance of our global
responsibility, as well as compassion for others.
Word Count: 98
|Positive and lasting effects of the program:|
Only those who attended this trip to Belize can truly explain the
positive and lasting effects. As I discussed the trip with Leah
Arthur, she explained to me her deeper appreciation for the liberties
we have in the United States. “We are so blessed. We take so much for
granted,” she told me, as she noted that there is no such thing as a
“free” education in Belize.
When I stumbled upon Dru Morgan’s online blog that was dedicated to
detailing each day’s events in Belize, I was absolutely blown away. In
his very last blog post, Dru wrote: “Each of us will return to our
routine lives but none of us will ever be the same. As I arrived home
and began to unpack my bags, I broke down one last time in tears as I
pulled out my stethoscope. This week, I listened to the very essence
of life, the heartbeat, of hundreds of Belizean people.”
Word Count: 159
|Short evaluation of the program:|
As someone who did not participate in the trip and has only heard
about it from those folks who did attend, I can tell you that this
particular community service opportunity has the potential to make
such an impact on so many different people and in so many different ways.
From the collaboration between campus leaders and local community
leaders to the impact the trip had on our students, the trip was
fabulous all-around. Of course, a trip to Belize involves a hefty
ticket price of $1,100; but as I discovered, many of the students who
attended received financial support from local churches, families, and
Finally, I think it’s important to point out the practical experience
this trip gives to our nursing students. Not too many students
entering the professional work world can boast of such an enriching
experience like this.
Word Count: 142
|How could this program be adapted to other campuses?|
First and foremost, any campus looking to embark on such a trip
should have a few people who are interested in serving as the key
contact people. It would be helpful to consult with others who have
taken such mission trips in the past, as there are a lot of details
that someone like me would never think about because of my lack of
experience with planning such trips.
Alternative spring break trips are done all across the country.
Mission trips are done locally, regionally, nationally, and
internationally. Any campus or residence life program can adopt a
trip with some careful planning and expertise.
Fund-raising will play a key role in making any trip possible.
Therefore, your campus will need to embrace some fund-raising so that
it is financially feasible for any student to attend.
Word Count: 136