Carol Elliott | December 25, 2017
Three University of Notre Dame MBA students will be spending their winter break in Jamaica, but their plans don’t include the typical tourist fun-in-the-sun activities. Instead, James Hiltz, Zachary Pedersen and Brock Reneer will be swinging hammers and hauling building materials to help build a home for abandoned and disabled children.
“Many people do think of Jamaica as a vacation resort,” said Pederson. “But there are a lot of people living very hard lives. It’s a great opportunity for us to dive in and lend physical bandwidth to people in need.”
The project is part of an effort of Mustard Seed Communities (MSC), a nonprofit founded in 1978 to serve the impoverished community of Mona Common on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. MSC currently provides residential care for children and young adults with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and teen mothers along with their babies. It also manages a number of community outreach programs to combat poverty and provide education to local populations. MSC has expanded its ministry to include Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Zimbabwe.
The MBA students were offered the opportunity to get involved through Hiltz’s home parish, the Blessed Sacrament Parish of Northern Kentucky, which has long sent volunteers to help. Each student must raise $1,000 to cover costs and provide financial assistance to the effort. The students, who leave for Jamaica December 31, will spend a week helping with construction projects and interacting the residents.