The new year is just over a month old, but for the Mission of Love, based in Austintown, a lot has been accomplished in a short time. With a crew of over 24, St. Joseph and Mary School in Newton Falls was cleared out on Saturday and several truckloads of lockers, school equipment, and books were taken to the Mission warehouse in Ravenna.
"All of the approvals have been met and know that we will be able to service Metropolitan Hospital where we do the cleft palate surgeries, Blind Schools of Guatemala, and WAY-bi Children's Hospice Home," said MOL founder/Director Kathy Price.
Price had just returned from a trip earlier in January that saw a team of physicians donate their time and travel to performing cleft surgery on children whose families had no means to provide the procedure. While there, the team saw another need that Price committed to solving. That need is for a school for blind children.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Erin and Edward Kesch assist their mother Bridget Harker as they package books for the Mission of Love trip to Guatemala. They were part of an army of volunteers who were helping clear out St. Mary and Joseph School in Newton Falls on Saturday. The school supplies and equipment will be heading to South America to outfit a new school for blind children.
Upon returning, the question of how to outfit a school came up. As with so many worthy projects Price's organization is involved with, the question was answered, this time from a school in Newton Falls. Last year, St. Mary and Joseph School closed down due to low enrollment numbers. Some of the school's equipment was sent to mission schools by the Diocese, but a lot still remained.
"We found out about Mission of Love through one of our parishioners," said school secretary Joanne Newcomb. "We found out they could use all the stuff left in the school, so we set things up and everyone was thrilled to know this stuff will be going to help other children."
The Mission of Love crew of volunteers showed up at 8 a.m. Saturday and began pulling everything from books and equipment to lockers. A forklift was running back and forth moving lockers and shelving onto one of the big rigs that showed to help haul the load.
By late afternoon, the school was cleared out and the loads were delivered to the warehouse for the next phase. Price said the airlift has been approved and is set for mid-March. The school shipment will have to be ready to go from the Youngstown Airbase prior to the scheduled March 17 flight. Price said a C5 aircraft will be coming in to upload the cargo.
The news made Austintown volunteer Mavis Ceci happy. Ceci has not been to Guatemala yet, but when Price called for volunteers on Saturday, she was quick to respond. She had been on the Mission trip to New Orleans following the hurricane Katrina strike. As a nurse, she was able to use her skills to help victims of that tragedy and now as a volunteer, she will be able to help Price get the school equipment together.
"Her (Price) plans come up so quick," Ceci said. "But you're attracted to the love she spreads. It is true love put into practical use."
The volunteers returned home Saturday night to Newton Falls, Hubbard, Poland, Austintown, Lordstown, North Jackson, and Ellsworth with the knowledge that they have had a small part in seeing that the poor children around the world have a better chance at life, thanks to Price and her Mission of Love.
"Together we have come together to make this worthy Mission of Love a success," Price said. "We are committing ourselves as we have for the last 23 years -- with all volunteers!"