Written by Sophie Rossitto
Senior Emma Hayes helped lead a group of people at Harding in organizing the first Searcy spring break mission trip this fall, with the goal of helping students connect with local residents and organizations.
Joy Tittle, who works with spring break missions and is a director for this trip, said she suggested the idea for a local mission earlier this semester because she saw many ways students could get involved in the Searcy community.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity to just meet our neighbors and to see how we can interact with them better and get to know them better,” Tittle said.
Kyle Thompson, assistant director for the Office of Community Connection, is also involved with the Searcy mission. Thompson said his group is working on developing plans for spring break, but their goal is to collaborate with local organizations that are already active in serving people in Searcy. These groups include Sparrow’s Promise, which works with foster families and children; Harding Place, a retirement community; and Christopher Homes, which provides housing for older adults with low income, Tittle said.
Hayes, the student leader for the trip, said she has worked with nonprofits in Searcy this semester through her social work courses, and she has noticed a lack of connection between the Harding community and other people living in Searcy. Hayes said that during the spring break mission, students can learn how to get involved with various organizations, as well as the purposes and roles of each group.
“I also am just super excited to get people plugged in with local organizations, especially freshmen because they can stick with the organizations the rest of their Harding career,” Hayes said.
Thompson said the Searcy mission trip is unique because it will allow students to continue volunteering and building relationships with people they have met even after the trip is over.
“It makes it different in that you can stay in kind of consistent communication,” Thompson said.
Hayes said her group might have devotional or reflection time each night during spring break. They also might watch movies, play games and do other activities when they are not working.
Tittle said the cost of the trip is $60. She said she hopes local church members will open their homes to provide meals and housing for Harding students during spring break.
Thompson said that as of Thursday, Dec. 2, seven people had signed up for the Searcy mission trip.
Hayes said she encourages people who are interested in local ministry to find an area of interest or a group of people they are passionate about and to use their spiritual gifts to serve. She said people can even create new ministries to address needs they see in the community.
“So, I’d say don’t be afraid to have creative ideas about how to help people ‘cause I think there’s a lot of ways the spirit can lead in ways that we couldn’t imagine in helping people,” Hayes said.