A new scholarship established by former Mary Baldwin University chaplain Pat Hunt will help students find their calling on mission trips stateside and abroad. The Sara Forrest Thompson Hunt Mission Fund — named after Rev. Hunt’s mother — is designed to provide financial aid to students interested in traveling with religious organizations that perform outreach and service.
“In my experience, often the students who are interested in this type of trip are those who don’t have a lot of extra resources,” said Hunt, who retired in 2010. “My idea was just to give them a little boost, a little encouragement.”
The student must travel with a religiously affiliated organization, but Hunt kept additional restrictions on the scholarship to a minimum. “They can work with a church, a synagogue, a mosque, or an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, which has a faith-based purpose,” she explained.
One mission trip that is particularly close to Hunt’s heart is an annual project organized by her church, Augusta Stone Presbyterian, in Baja, Mexico. She is excited that — for the first time — a Mary Baldwin student will join the church group in July to construct homes and share in a community of faith with Oaxacan Indian families, one of the native peoples of Mexico. Freshman Bethany Zaiman, a Student Advocate who connected with service activities through the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement at Mary Baldwin, will see first-hand “how faith informs a commitment to service” while in the rural village of Mexico, said Mary Baldwin Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Religion Katherine Low.
Zaiman is able to cover the cost of her trip, so Hunt’s initial $1,500 contribution will be used to support one or several other students, who will be identified through conversations between Hunt and Spencer Center staff. She and other donors will add to the fund as interest in mission trips is demonstrated.
“Service remains at the heart of what it means to live out religion, and Mary Baldwin’s commitment to service and a heritage shared with the Presbyterian church makes mission trips valued resources for students to explore how their lives of faith can impact their world through service to others,” Low said.