Posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009
While many might see the word "Jamaica" and think of expansive beaches and sunny vacations, Paul Marshall '11 envisions a chance for service-learning.
"Community service has always been a huge part of my life," explains Marshall. "Ever since I could remember, I have always tried to give back." He hopes to continue to give back this summer through Mustard Seed Communities, a non-profit community development organization that began as a home for children with disabilities who had been abandoned or orphaned.
Marshall heard about the program through a friend who had participated in it this past March. "She said it was the most rewarding experience in which she'd ever taken part," Marshall says. For him, the program seemed to incorporate every project he's been involved with in the past - all centered on helping children though tutoring and mentoring while also helping better their living conditions. "I think it is a wonderful program and I feel like I can be a big help."
Thirty years after its inception, Mustard Seed Communities cares for more than 600 children in 14 communities and five nations throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. It has more than 20 community outreach programs with the goal of improving the economic, social and spiritual conditions of the communities it serves.
In Jamaica, Marshall would provide physical labor, supplying necessities such as first-aid and enhancing children's lives in other ways.
He has already started fundraising, but needs to raise approximately $1,000 to participate in August. "Hopefully my service would not be an isolated experience and I would be able to awaken the interest and sensibility of others who could in turn dedicate some of their time to the children of Mustard Seed Communities," he says.
A double major in history and English and minor in Islamic studies, Marshall is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and co-coordinator for AmericaCounts, a program which he describes as a "huge part of his life" during his past two years on campus. About four years ago, Marshall traveled to Eastern Kentucky to help improve the living conditions of people in the Appalachian Mountains. He has worked with Child and Family Services and as a mentor and tutor to a group of boys between the ages of 5 and 12 living in a group home near his hometown of Middletown, R.I.
Anyone looking for more information or who wants to donate can contact Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Flowers, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at Kflowers@hws.edu.