Rising redshirt senior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) made his second consecutive trip to the Caribbean nation along with his younger brother, rising senior walk-on Judson Hall (Charlotte, N.C.). New to the fold were rising sophomore walk-on guard Chad Cooke (Bolingbrook, Ill.) as well as College of Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik and his wife, Lael.
Wojcik is the first-known Division I men’s basketball coach to make a service trip during the summer recruiting months. Last year, the group from CofC was preceded by the Oklahoma men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football teams, who make annual trips to Haiti through the Mission of Hope (MOH) organization.
The CofC Basketball program’s involvement began two years ago as Angela Mallen, a 2002 graduate and freelance sideline reporter for ESPN, shared her dream with Carolyn Cremins, the wife of former CofC head coach Bobby Cremins, and Jason Surratt, missions pastor at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Mallen envisioned these mission trips to grow every year and involve varsity sports teams from her alma mater.
Last May, the group which included Mrs. Cremins, helped a deaf community located just outside of the capital of Port-au-Prince still recovering from the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti in January of 2010.
Mallen’s vision has been made possible through the partnerships of The 410 Bridge (www.410bridge.org) and Seacoast Church (www.seacoast.org). Based in Alpharetta, Ga., The 410 Bridge partners people and organizations with communities in Kenya and Haiti, building a bridge that, “utilizes our God given gifts to serve one another.” The organization’s vision is, “to see these partnerships transform the nations of Kenya and Haiti, while igniting a passion for missions in the church.”
Over the last year, the Hall brothers remained in constant contact with former 410 Bridge group leader, Stacy Williams, who e-mailed them pictures of the development of the community of Leveque.
“It was great to go back and see everyone again,” said Willis Hall, who was given a special sign-language name by the community leaders – considered the highest of honors. “We built great relationships with the people there last year and the bonding experience was even better this year.”
This year’s trip was extra special as Jason Surratt was joined by his brother, Josh, associate pastor, and his father, Greg, senior pastor at Seacoast Church. All members of the travel party learned basic sign language in preparation for the trip.
The group returned to Leveque to help build a rock cross for the newly-built church, painted houses, tended to garden work and played field games and basketball with community residents.
“The community has really grown since we last visited,” said Judson Hall, who is a religious studies major at CofC. “It was great to see everyone again and a lot of fun. Last year, it was a life-changing experience for my brother and I and we are blessed to have another opportunity to help the people of Leveque.”
Documenting the journey through video and social media were two CofC employees, Brooks Quinn, media specialist in the Office of Institutional Events, and Marlene Navor, director of athletics communications, both members of Seacoast Church along with Mallen. The group plans to unveil a video documentary upon arrival back in the U.S. in early June.
Video Music: Imagine by Taio Cruz