Project Mexico Home Building.
Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage has developed a sustainable Home Building Program with the support of a Leadership 100 grant of $63,735 in 2015. An Intern Development Coordinator educated and strengthened the 23 Home Building Interns in the scriptural importance of service to the needy in a cross-cultural missionary context, in the personal development and spiritual fortification necessary to lead and inspire Orthodox missionaries during their home building trips, and in mentoring others in an outreach and evangelistic environment.
The Home Building Program brought Orthodox youth and young adults into Mexico to serve those in need by building a home. The vast majority of participants were profoundly transformed by the experience and some were impacted so much that they will return as Home Building Interns. These interns essentially become role models for the hundreds of Orthodox youth that come to build a home each summer. Since 1988, the Home Building Program has brought over 11,500 Orthodox Christians to Mexico and built over 290 homes for impoverished Mexican families.
The Intern Development Coordinator and leadership of Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage spent a significant amount of effort designing program improvements that would ultimately achieve the goals of this project.
In late May of 2016, 23 Home Building Interns came from 16 different parish communities across the United States, the largest number of interns received during a home building season in the history of Project Mexico.
The interns, when not supporting a very compacted and aggressive home building schedule, were actively engaged in the liturgical life of the Project Mexico community in Mexico. They participated in discussions and reflections regarding the importance of missionary work in an Orthodox context. They also served as faithful examples of inspiration for the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. Whether through moments of quiet conversation, thoughtful prayer, sharing meals, or even an exhilarating game of soccer, their faith and compassion helped, in some way, to heal those who have seen far too much pain in their short lives. The interns also spent time in feeding the poor in Tijuana’s most economically challenged neighborhoods.
In addition to the considerable work accomplished with intern development, Project Mexico offered 58 home building scholarships to 22 parish communities participating in our summer Home Building Program. The scholarships were offered on behalf of Leadership 100, and each of the recipients was recommended by his or her own parish priests. The criteria utilized by the parishes when selecting scholarship candidates was that the scholarship be awarded to someone facing a financial hardship and who is active in their faith and parish community
Project Mexico also awarded 22 home building scholarships to Hellenic College Holy Cross students who participated in a home build during Spring Break, the second year that Project Mexico has done so.
The grant also enabled redesign and creation of the organizational website (www.projectmexico.org), redesign and implementation of the Home Building Group Registration process, redesign and update of all Home Building resource materials and forms, purchase of intern program training books and materials, purchase of website online store capability and post-trip participant survey services, social media training to improve the reach and messaging of the ministry, development of an Intern Orientation and Training Plan.
In addition to a highly successful registration process, which yielded the largest Home Building season since the founding of the program, Project Mexico also experienced a surge of intern applications for the summer of 2016, another notable improvement from previous years.