Finding Time To Give Back

By Marissa Huff

Colorado sophomore Hannah Walker had an intensive high school volleyball career, lettering all four years to becoming a state champion and competing in the Junior Olympics. Despite having a busy volleyball schedule, Walker always made time to give back to the community and help those who are less fortunate.

During the summer Walker and her family made time to visit Mexico to help build homes for impoverished families. She has been helping families in need since she was in sixth grade. The first trip she made was with her older brother, Micah. She says before heading out to Flores, Mexico, she and her church's youth group held fundraisers to collect money to help get the group down to help needy families. She says they began the trip with group-building exercises and then dove right in to building the new home.

"We met the family and got started on building the foundation. We each have jobs to do and we all work together," said Walker. "Day by day we put the walls up, stucco the walls and later on other groups come to put in electrical. It's a really cool process."

Walker said one of her favorite parts of helping build homes for families in need is being able to interact with some of the children in the community. Many of the children are overjoyed seeing new faces in their town helping out in the community. She said they are very interested in learning from the out-of-towners.
"The kids in the neighborhood love to come play with us. They are very interested in what is going on and really want to learn English and communicate with us," Walker said. "We teach them some English words and they teach us Spanish words."

On a second mission trip back to the same neighborhood a year later, Walker was able to see the home she helped build with her own hands. She and her family reunited with the family to see how they were doing.

"It was really cool to see them and see how far they have come," said Walker. "It was cool seeing the house we helped build."

Walker said once she and her older brother made a few trips, her parents wanted to participate as well. The family decided to go together with another family to do more work in the communities in Mexico and build other homes for families.

The mission trips became a family tradition they could enjoy together while helping other families less fortunate than their own. She said it was great to be able to get more work done with the strength of two families and more adults.

Walker attributes much of the kind of person she is today to those trips she made with her family to Mexico. She said helping families in need made her realize how lucky she is.

"It was really humbling," Walker said. "You would think just the first time would be humbling, but every time I go, it's like, 'Wow, we are so blessed to have so much.'"

Walker said seeing the conditions the families and children have to live in make her appreciate her own life and the blessings she has.

"They live in terrible conditions and are still so happy and grateful for everything they have," Walker said. "It was a huge learning experience for me; hard work goes a long way."

Walker's brother is currently in South Africa doing mission work. Walker hopes to one day make a trip to join her brother and help out in South Africa like she did in Mexico.

Having a busy schedule in college and volleyball has made it difficult for Walker to make more mission trips, but she hopes to continue to make more trips with her family in the near future.

"I definitely want to continue going on mission trips with my family and church," said Walker. "I will also encourage my future family to take part as well since I learned so much from the experience."

Walker considers her mission work in Mexico a wonderful learning experience and will continue to help those in need whenever she can. For now, Walker is focusing on volleyball.

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