On a Mission to Make a Difference
Breaks in the spring and winter from a rigorous academic schedule are times to recharge brains, get some rest, and have a little fun. Through Monmouth’s global experience program, students can use this time to give back, whether it be in the next town or across the globe.
For approximately 200 Monmouth University students in 2013, spring break meant helping the residents of Sea Bright, New Jersey, a town ravaged by Superstorm Sandy only a few months earlier. Students collaborated with other volunteers to clean up debris, pump out salty water from basements, and prepare to rebuild.
Further away from home, other students have volunteered with Social Work Professor Bobbie Arrington. In past years, she has led a trip to Chile during spring break where students worked with leaders and youth of the shantytown La Pincoya in Santiago. They visited schools, hospitals, and other institutions. They were also part of workshops and presentations on Chilean culture, economy, and human rights.
In 2015, Corey Inzana ’10M, residential life administrator and the 2014 Stafford Presidential Award of Excellence recipient, led 13 students to Haiti during winter break to help build a school for underprivileged children in Canaan 3, just outside Port-au-Prince.
In the spring, Inzana also took students to Guatemala where they participated in the construction of a school with Salud U Paz in the underprivileged community of Xepocol, just outside of Chichicastenango.
These trips instill a commitment to helping that continues long after graduation for some of our alumni.
Joe Patane ’07M, who founded and runs the Dream Camp Foundation, also wanted to respond to the crisis in Haiti. He traveled to the island with Zack Karper of Buggle Productions to see the devastation firsthand and to meet with some of the homeless. Children were given disposable cameras and asked to take photos of people and places in their lives in an effort to draw attention to their tragic plight. Patane’s connection to Haiti continues today.
“They brought back some profound images—pictures of abandonment, sadness, and little progress,” said Patane.
To assist with literacy and living conditions, Dream Camp Foundation donated four Apple iPads, Internet connections, and accessories to initiate Haiti’s first youth community newspaper with the help of Kara Lightburn and Joe Duplan.
“Locals are able to reach out to others around the globe, enhancing awareness and communication, and providing the opportunity to enrich their own lives,” said Patane.
Also recognizing the need to help those less fortunate in Haiti is Dr. Regina Foley ’89, who has been traveling to the third-world country for more than a decade.
“There has been incremental improvement since the earthquake, but there is still a pre-earthquake discussion and a post-earthquake discussion,” said Foley, who traveled to Haiti for nine days in January 2015. Next January will mark her 15th year.
She took her first medical mission trip in 2002, arriving in the town of Milot, about 70 miles outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, to offer her help and has continued to do so every year since. The only year she and her team missed was 2013 when a revolt broke out in the city two days before they were scheduled to arrive.
“I get more out of it than they do,” said Foley. “They are really good at tapping into your experience and talent to become stronger. They embrace our help.”
The mission is part of a self-funded, multidisciplinary medical team headed by Dr. Daniel Burzon, a physician at Coastal Urology Associates and an attending urologist at Ocean Medical Center, both in Brick, New Jersey.
As chief nursing officer/vice president of operations for Ocean Medical Center, Foley was part of a team of 30 to 50 specialized doctors and nurses who worked at Milot’s Hôpital Sacré-Coeur, which holds about 100 beds.
“It’s a dual role for me,” said Foley, who noted that in addition to performing surgeries for elephantitis and prostatitis, she tries to educate the people on hand washing, diet, HIV, hepatitis prevention, and the maintenance and management of equipment.
“They are such a proud culture,” she said. “They really want to improve their life expectancy and their environment.” Currently, the life expectancy is only 44. Despite the obstacles and crumbled infrastructure, Foley still remains hopeful and looks forward to her trip every year, saying, “It’s the best vacation I ever had.”