As Northwestern transitions back from fall break, students are starting to hear about the SSP trips occurring next semester. An SSP, or Spring Service Project, is a short-term mission project aimed at helping students become more culturally conscious Christians.
“We want to help people engage in long-term ministry in a short-term fashion,” said Patrick Hummel, director of missions at NW.
One of these service projects is located in Annville, Ky. Although it might seem to be a new face in the list of many returning trips, this SSP has actually been around for a while. NW has served a total of nine times in Annville since 1994. The last trip to Annville was three years ago.
The trip is through Jackson Country Ministries, an organization led by the Reformed Church in America that provide many service opportunities in Annville.
“A lot of the students’ time will be spent fixing up homes in a lot of impoverished areas in the Appalachian Mountains,” Hummel said. “Traditionally, this trip has been more specifically geared toward house repair and remodeling, although it could change a little this year.”
Scott Simmelink, director of maintenance and operations at NW, a previous advisor of the trip and a childhood resident of Annville, knows the impact the service project has for the area.
“Jackson County is not only one of the poorest and (most) depressed counties in Kentucky but also in the United States,” Simmelink said, “so there’s a lot of situations where one realizes how blessed we truly are.”
The trip will be smaller than usual; instead of the 20 students and advisors normally recruited, this year’s trip will only have 10 people.
“One of our values in Campus Ministry is having long-term partners, which makes it hard to introduce new trips,” Hummel said. “It’s one of the reasons I thought, Well, if I just send 10 to Annville, we can probably handle that. Now we are able to do many of our other trips and not have to take many off this year.”
Annville, like the other service projects, has aspects that are distinct to it. The uniqueness of these SSPs is the fact that they all tend to be different. Some even tend to be department-specific, but Hummel confirmed that “this trip is for anyone.”
Senior Kaylee Brugioni and junior Trenton Korver are the student leaders for the Annville service project. Because Annville is a re-introduced trip to NW students, Brugioni and Korver do not know much about it, but are both excited about the opportunity to lead.
“I’m excited, a little nervous and very grateful that I have been given the opportunity to colead this trip,” Korver said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how we can serve the people of Annville, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the people of Annville impact and change our lives.”
Brugioni shared the same sentiments and said he is excited for the opportunity to serve in a new location.
“I’m most excited to work with students from campus in a place where most of us have probably never been,” Brugioni said. “I think the challenge of us having to step out of our comfort zone to work together is going to be really exciting to see.”
Applications for Annville and other service projects will be available on Nov. 4.