Mission of Hope Trip Planned for November

 

By Steve Sears

Nancy Baran recalls her first Mission of Hope trip.

“Initially when I started this, it was going to be a ‘been there, done that’ kind of experience; taking my oldest daughter, who’s now 28, to experience what poverty was, and to show our kids that not everybody’s privileged like we are, and just to give back,” Baran says. “I went the first year figuring I’m going to go because my sister and brother-in-law got me into it. I could never quite understand why they kept going back year after year. And then all of a sudden you get hooked.” 

Mission of Hope is a ministry group that was formed at Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic Church in Pompton Plains. Baran, Mission of Hope President for 14 years, took over leading the mission from her sister and brother-in-law, who moved to Colorado. “They wanted their work to continue, so I took it on and have taken it on ever since,” Baran says.

This year’s Mission of Hope trip involves building a house for a single mom and her family in the Dominican Republic. “You realize what a difference you make in these people’s lives, and it’s not just the material things that we bring,” Baran affirms. “Of course, when you can put shoes on a child’s feet who is walking around in glass and rocks without shoes, that’s a pretty good feeling. But it goes beyond the material possessions we bring them. I always like to say, ‘It’s not the ‘presents’ we bring, but our physical ‘presence.’ Just being there to show that someone cares, to walk down the street and to hold a child’s hand, and just to watch them smile back up at you. It is so rewarding.’

For Baran and those who work with her on Mission of Hope, it’s a very busy life. “By the time that trip completes the first year, we’re already planning for the next year,” she says. “I get emails and text messages and Facebook posts all the time that say, ‘Are you still collecting donations?’ We collect all year long. By the time we’re packed up for our current trip, we’ve already started gathering donations for our next trip. Once the word spreads and you have repeat people, we get drops of all kinds of donations at the front door. It makes good use of what a lot of people would throw out. Just this morning I got bags of fabric, yarn, shoes, and all kinds of things. It’s amazing what we can put to good use.”

The normal number of people per Mission of Hope trip is 20 to 24, and Baran is planning to have the latter number this year. “We cap that off because when we’re in their country, we don’t travel with our own transportation,” Baran says. “We take a local bus, so from the time we arrive at the airport, the bus meets us and they stay with us all week. They bring us back and forth where we stay to where we do our work.” And safety is top concern and priority, especially for this Mission of Hope trip, the first since the COVID-19 Pandemic. “We have all of our vaccines. Our biggest concern was not so much when we’re local, but we didn’t want to risk potentially bringing COVID into a community that would not be able to handle it the way we are. They just don’t have the facilities and the medical care that we do. We’re at a point now where we feel it’s completely safe. Everyone that’s traveling is going to have their vaccines, and we’re going to have everybody tested before we leave.”

“This (Mission of Hope) wouldn’t survive without the generosity of our community,” Baran says. “It’s overwhelming. My front door area fills I would say every one to two weeks, and I fill my car entirely and take the donations over to the church where we put it in storage. It’s bountiful. We couldn’t be more excited about the donations, and we’re always looking for additional sponsors.” The annual Mission of Hope trip also sustains the medical clinic and school built by the generosity of Our Lady of Good Counsel, its parishioners, and the community. 

The 2022 Mission of Hope trip is from November 6 – 13. For more information about the mission, visit www.goodcounsel.org and search for “Mission of Hope.”

 

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