LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- For the 10th consecutive year, members and friends of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Larchmont partnered with Bridges to Community, a nonprofit community development organization based in Ossining, to travel to Nicaragua on a building and cultural exchange trip.
In the last decade, nearly 100 parishioners and friends have worked side by side with Nicaraguan families to build homes, vented stoves and classrooms; and to raise funds for the construction of an elementary school in 2011 in honor of Marilyn Pardo, the retired head of the St. John’s Nursery School.
Armed with shovels and trowels, a 14-person team from St. John’s recently returned from a weeklong trip after constructing their 24th cinder-block house, and completing a newly inaugurated project, biodigesters.
The volunteers worked in the impoverished Nicaraguan community of Mojon, in the northern coffee-growing region of Jinotega.
The St. John’s group helped to make a dream come true for Doña Valentina Cruz and her husband, Renee, and their five children and two grandchildren, who now have a sturdy earthquake-resistant cinder-block home.
During the trip, volunteers lived in the community in the cinder-block home of a local community leader.
This year, the St. John's group included a mixture of students and adults, veterans and first-timers, and friends and family members. Trip participants were Carla Berry, Freya Cantwell, Paul Cantwell, Simon Cantwell, Colin Clay, Lucius Clay, Cathleen Ketcham, Brennen McCarthy, Colin McCarthy, Megan McCarthy, Harry Sober, Axel Steinmetz, Greg Steinmetz and Linnet Tse.
As Cathleen Ketcham expressed, “As a first-timer, I am overwhelmed with what we did and just how necessary this kind of work is. I really hope I made a difference.”
A veteran of the trip, Harry Sober, shared how profound an impact the trip had on his niece who accompanied him: “The take-aways were very positive. My niece gained a powerful and unique perspective of appreciation for her own current life opportunities and adventures that are provided to her as well as the strong family bond that exists back home.”
More information on Bridges to Community may be found at http:// www.bridgestocommunity.org /.
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