Building a Home for Maria

Posted by Spalding Hurst

October 25, 2023

In the heart of Las Flores, Belize, a group of volunteers recently came together for a life-changing mission. Their goal? To build a simple yet sturdy metal siding home for Maria and her son, David. As they embarked on this journey with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, they not only constructed walls and a roof but also built bridges of hope and compassion.

In an era dominated by screens and virtual realities, the volunteers found themselves in a place where technology and media faded into the bright blue skies as they took on the laborious task at hand. In Las Flores, where the sun blazed this month of October, they discovered a profound connection with the village and its people and the group never felt more connected to the world around them.

Community Spirit

Maria, the homeowner, exuded an aura of warmth and gratitude at every step of the project. Her dedication to the mission was evident in her every gesture and smile shared. Her son, David, was no different. Working diligently each day, it was inspiring to see him give his all to the project, especially considering he held a night shift job to help support their family.

In Las Flores, the team stained wood panels, put on a roof, ran electric wiring, framed walls, and installed panels. The result? It is a beautiful home for Maria and David, a symbol of hope and change.

The spirit of the area embraced the dedicated team. With members ranging from high school students to seasoned mission trip veterans, each brought unique skills and passion. They met any challenges along the way with enthusiasm and problem-solving. The volunteer team was as diverse as the colors of the world’s flags. From the U.S. to Italy to England, their backgrounds and skills were wide-ranging. Yet, their shared experience in Belize left an indelible mark on their hearts.

The team included Robin Cleveland, a seasoned volunteer from Ohio; Lisa Walters, a retired 911 dispatcher from Georgia; Sylvia Jeffers, a semi-retired nurse from London; Terry Hutchins, a maintenance expert from Nazareth; Beth Vetter, the Director of SCN Associates; Elaine Belflowers, an SCN Associate with a long career at AAA; Spalding Hurst, who works for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth; Michelle Hundley, an active high school junior from Bardstown; Hollis Hurst, a budding engineer and high school sophomore; and Melissa Calvi, from Italy, currently residing in Belize. Their combined efforts led to the construction of a home that stands in honor of Sisters Carlette Gentle, Rosemarie Kirwin, and Paschal Maria Fernicola.

The mission extended beyond constructing a home. They immersed themselves in the local culture, attending an international football match between Belize and Bermuda, experiencing the village Catholic Mass, and even visiting the Xunantunich Mayan Temple during a rare solar eclipse.

The newly built home stands as a beacon of beauty, strength, and security. For Maria, it isn’t just walls and a roof; it’s a sanctuary where she can truly relax, knowing she’s shielded from the elements. Its existence signifies the potential for better living conditions and acting as a catalyst for systemic change in the community. With each such initiative, the village takes a step towards progress, unity, and enhanced well-being.

The group’s dedication didn’t end with the home; they also contributed to the local St. Michael school by revitalizing its playground, painting vibrant colors, and reinforcing its beams.

Spreading Joy Beyond Boundaries

Working in temperatures sometimes exceeding 100 degrees, their determination remained unwavering. The morale of the team stayed strong, fueled by their shared purpose and the knowledge that their efforts would forever transform a family’s life.

During a final house blessing, the home was dedicated with a symbolic cross. “May this cross remind you daily of God’s presence, the love that binds your family, and the steadfast faith that built your home. Congratulations on this new chapter,” said Sylvia Jeffers, a volunteer from the UK, as she handed the emblem to Maria amidst heartfelt applause from the team and gathered community members.

As they concluded their mission, Robin Clevland, SCNA, a long-time volunteer, delivered a closing prayer during the house blessing: “We appreciate the love and unity that have graced this space and the hope and inspiration that have touched our hearts. We lift up our heartfelt prayers for Maria and her family as they begin a new chapter in their lives.”

With their guiding presence always with Maria and her son David, watching over their new home, the volunteers departed Belize with hearts full of gratitude, leaving a tangible legacy of compassion, unity, and the enduring spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

Making a Lasting Difference

This group of volunteers showed that when people come together, they can make a big difference. They didn’t just build a house; they gave a family a new start. Their hard work in Las Flores reminds us that helping others is a great way to find happiness and purpose. Even though the volunteers came from different places, they all wanted to do something good. And they did. The house will always be a reminder of what people can achieve when they work together to help others.

Reaching out to help underserved communities adds purpose to our lives. Driven by a profound sense of empathy and the urge to make a difference, volunteers globally work towards alleviating poverty and enhancing living standards. Humanitarian aid isn’t just about providing relief; it’s a calling to immerse ourselves, uplift, and stand in solidarity with those less fortunate. For those inspired to embark on such a meaningful journey and make a tangible difference, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth welcome you. To join this cause and contribute to positive change, visit

1 Comment

  1. Theresa Robinson

    I love this and knowing that a couple of former students from Montessori were there helping out. Sr. Pat would be so happy to hear this if she were still around.


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