Baylor Mission Teams Provide Harvey and Hunger Relief, as Well as Respite Care to Many in Texas

March 16, 2018

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (March 16, 2018) – Three Baylor University mission teams served in Texas over spring break to provide relief for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as by hunger, homelessness and many other circumstances. More than 60 students, faculty and staff traveled across the state to serve in schools, nonprofits, neighborhoods, respite centers and community buildings.

“This mission trip opened my eyes to those in need in my own back yard,” said Ashanta Lewis, BSN, RN, lecturer in the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas and a co-leader on the McAllen nursing mission trip. “I was able to provide care and spread God’s love, even if for a little while. I will never forget the people and families I met in the short time I was in McAllen. This trip affirmed my decision about my future studies in public health, and I can’t wait to impact more lives.”

Lewis, along with two other leaders and 15 Baylor nursing students traveled to McAllen. While there, the group worked with Texas Baptist River Ministry missionary Vanessa Quintanilla to serve in the local colonias and in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Respite Center.

The team provided respite care, community services and education to those in need. The students supplied necessary items for hygiene and personal care, nutrition services for adults and children, clean clothes and shoes.

Through one-on-one interactions with the community, the nursing mission team provided men, women, children and infant refugees with a place to rest, eat and shower. The team also provided medicine and health care to the refugees before they continued their journeys.

The second team from Baylor Missions went to Bear Creek – a community in Houston – to provide Hurricane Harvey relief. Thirty-eight students from a variety of academic disciplines assisted the community and surrounding neighborhoods with landscaping, home improvement and meeting community needs.

The hurricane hit the Texas coast, Houston and Southeast Texas in August 2017, deluging the area with record-breaking rainfall totals, flooding homes and neighborhoods and causing billions of dollars in damages.

“The best part of the trip was watching the community come together and help their neighbors,” said Vinny Pesina, a junior biochemistry major from Georgetown, Texas. “At one point, when some of the guys were shoveling dirt, two young kids came by to help, and they had a blast. Seeing them smiling after such a devastating event brought me so much joy. Being a transfer student, the trip provided an opportunity to make new friends. Whether we were fertilizing a flower garden, shoveling dirt or helping lift heavy things, I loved serving the community after such a catastrophic event.”

On Jan. 24, Baylor hosted its “Change the World in a Day” service in Chapel, and Baylor students donated $10,000 for Harvey relief. This money was used to purchase new dishwashers, refrigerators, ranges, kitchen exhaust fans, washing machines, dryers, a full kitchen full of new cabinets, mulch, soil, rakes, shovels, hoses, sprinklers, bathroom sets, a tiller and other materials. The team at Bear Creek was able to deliver, use and install these items in the community.

The final group, the Hunger in Texas team, served in a variety of Texas cities as part of a different kind of relief effort for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Eight Baylor students traveled to the Gulf coast to help with recovery efforts and gain insight on the depth and breadth of the hurricane’s impact. While in the Coastal Bend region, the team cleared debris, mucked houses and organized donated supplies.

In Rockport, the team served alongside other volunteers and met families attempting to recover from the storm. The team also traveled to Austin for meetings with state-level stakeholders to understand the role of state government in responding to crises and visited the Joint Field Operations Office to learn about the federal government’s role in relief and recovery.

“This is the third year Jared (Gould, state field Director at Texas Hunger Initiative) and I have led the Hunger in Texas trip, and it is always energizing to expose students to hunger relief efforts across the state,” said Grace Norman, government relations manager of Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University. “This year it was a privilege to serve alongside them in Rockport and then engage in systems-level dialogues with state and federal decision makers.”

All around Texas, Baylor students and leaders served together to make a difference in the lives and homes of many. At the heart of Texas, Baylor University is living out its mission of service every day through service trips, community involvement and relief efforts.

For more information, visit the Baylor Missions website.

by Brooke Battersby, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

The Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) located in Dallas was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the six degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first Baccalaureate degrees were granted in 1950 establishing the school among the earliest baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States. In 1999, the School was renamed the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing after Louise Herrington Ornelas, a 1992 Baylor Alumna Honoris Causa, who made an endowment gift to the school. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing, LHSON offers Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degrees through a traditional program and FastBacc (one-year accelerated program). LHSON also offers an online Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) Leadership and Innovation program, as well as Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) programs to include Family Nurse Practitioner (F.N.P.), Nurse-Midwife (C.N.M.) and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (N.N.P.). LHSON was featured in U.S. News & World Report for the 2018 Best Graduate Schools ranking the D.N.P. program in the top 50 U.S. nursing schools at No. 46. The Baylor M.S.N. program is ranked at No. 56 and the Nurse Midwifery Program ranked No. 10. Baylor’s M.S.N. in Nursing Leadership and Innovation Online Program ranked No. 39 in the 2018 U.S. News Best Online Graduate Programs. For more information,

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University is a capacity-building and collaborative project, which develops and implements strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI works to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas. THI’s work to increase participation in school breakfast programs is supported by No Kid Hungry. Along with its office located within the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor, THI has offices located in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen and San Angelo.