Baylor Missions Sends Spring Break Teams to Aid Disaster Relief

March 29, 2022
Kentucky Spring Break Mission

A 12-member team of Baylor students worked alongside a local church and relief organization in Mayfield, Kentucky, to clear debris from a tornado that devastated the community. (Morty Ortega/Baylor University)

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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by Lexi Nitishin, student news writer, Baylor University Media and Public Relations

WACO, Texas (March 29, 2022) – Over Baylor University’s spring break, Baylor Missions sent two teams of students, who combined service with their faith to help with ongoing clean up and rebuilding efforts in Mayfield, Kentucky, and LaPlace, Louisiana, two communities devastated in 2021 by natural disasters. In addition, students in the Baylor School of Education traveled to Costa Rica to continue their longtime partnership with schools in the rural community of Santa Elena.

In the spring, as universities and communities around the country loosened their COVID-19 restrictions, Baylor Missions returned to in-person mission trips, which allowed students to better connect with those in affected communities and work towards their shared goals.

“There is nothing that can replace the experience of in-person service. There is a bond that is formed between those in need and those serving,” said Kentucky trip leader Rebecca Kennedy, M.B.A., assistant dean for missions and public life and associate chaplain at Baylor.

Through Baylor Missions, students are provided opportunities to connect their academic disciplines, strengths and passions in service to Christ and the world.

Mayfield, Kentucky

In December, a catastrophic tornado tore through Mayfield in southwestern Kentucky, taking the lives of 77 people, destroying at least 257 homes and seriously damaging 478 others. The community also suffered the loss of churches and businesses.

The 12-member team of students worked alongside a local church and relief organization to help repair homes in Mayfield and clear areas for reconstruction. The Baylor team also organized donated supplies and other items for residents, such as toiletries, food items and clothing, cleaned lots where homes had been destroyed and assisted the local animal shelter.

In line with Baylor’s focus on a transformational undergraduate education, through missions, students are able to merge their education with active service informed by their faith, like sophomore Sai Sagireddy, a premed Science Research Fellow with concentrations in biology and medical humanities.

“For the past year, I’ve been trying to connect vocation, faith and calling and how exactly they serve in the future with what I do. I think more and more as I continue to do trips like these, I feel like missions is the answer to that,” said Sagireddy, who created a video blog taking viewers inside Baylor Missions in Mayfield.

LaPlace, Louisiana

LaPlace, about 30 miles northwest of New Orleans, was pummeled in September by Hurricane Ida. One of the hardest-hit areas in Louisiana, the community is still feeling the effect of the storm. The 35-member Baylor student team partnered with other organizations to help rebuilding efforts of homes and community centers, worked in neighborhoods to remove trash, tree limbs and debris and removed drywall and trim work to clear the way for rebuilding.

Additionally, Baylor students cleaned and reorganized a local church’s distribution center to prepare it for reopening. The team also held a diaper distribution day, which provided access to much-needed childcare supplies for community members. 

“This trip raised awareness of the encompassing devastation that natural disasters can have on a community that many don’t often think about. However, getting to help the homeowners and church and community members reminded each of us of what it looks like to ‘love your neighbor’ and how resilient people are when they are in community,” said Louisiana trip leaders Sarah Nelson, assistant director for missions and public life, and Codie Robinson, project coordinator for missions and public life.

Santa Elena, Costa Rica

In addition to the disaster relief teams, Baylor’s School of Education sent a team of students to work and serve with its partner schools in the rural community of Santa Elena, Costa Rica.

For over 15 years, Baylor has been sending education students to Santa Elena to work in both elementary and high schools.

Led by Randy Wood, Ph.D., professor emeritus of education, and Lee Anne Brannon, M.S.Ed., a doctoral candidate and lecturer in curriculum and instruction, the team’s focus this year was on helping high school students prepare to enter the workforce with conversational English through exercises and activities. In addition, both the Baylor and Costa Rican students were able to engage in unique cultural experiences and excursions beyond Santa Elena while growing as learners.

“International travel makes each person even more aware how great the world is and helps us to learn that some things are done differently in other parts of the world,” Wood said. “Many Costa Rican students have not been out of their neighborhood, so to get on a bus and go to see other parts of their country is a very enriching experience for them. Also, the opportunity to have extended times to speak in English helps them to become more conversational and confident in their ability to communicate in English.”

“I cannot emphasize enough how impactful international missions are to the Baylor students,” Brannon said. “Whether they were education, social work or science majors, among others, they have a better view of how big the world is, what it is like to live in Latin America and how different communities approach life, faith, education, belonging and the environment.”

Students can expect more opportunities to join in-person mission trips throughout the coming months. Baylor Missions has trips planned to return to Kentucky, Louisiana and Costa Rica, as well as many other locations around the world this May and throughout the summer. More information can be found on the Baylor Missions website.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.