The Heifer Project
Raking leaves, cleaning barns, and hauling manure are usually not highly anticipated activities for a group on vacation. However, those activities and many more like them were the daily routine for a group of individuals from Emmaus who volunteered at the Heifer Project International’s Learning and Livestock Center in Perryville, Arkansas. The Heifer Project is a 1,200-acre farm and a self-help ministry, providing animals for the needy around the world.
Emmaus residents* would journey with staff to this educational retreat and livestock holding center in central Arkansas. The 12-hour drive to Perryville begins at 6:30 a.m. and the group arrives later that evening in time to shop for the weeks’ worth of breakfasts and dinners, and settle into the “Heifer Hilton,” an open-air bunk barn which has canvas curtains for outside walls.
The next day, the group checks in to the Retreat Center, which offers modern accommodations in two lodges. According to staff in 1995, this move provided for better sleeping conditions which helped prepare the mind for their busy week ahead. The week’s work activities consisted of morning and evening meal preparation, mail assembly, folding souvenir t-shirts; cleaning sheep barns, organic gardening and yardwork.
Several leisurely activities were also a part of the week. These included buying souvenirs and hiking the Educational Trail, which features demonstrations of small-scale farming. Included along the trail is the Global Village, which is a unique environment that demonstrates the living conditions of many rural communities worldwide. Dinners out to a local restaurant were also worked into the week’s evening activities.
“Before we even left, the guys were asking when they could return,” noted a past Emmaus team member. “We’re glad that their experiences were so positive.”
Heifer Project participants were selected for the trip because of their previous experience with Heifer, while others were chosen because of their farming background. Some were selected because the exposure to these types of activities would be a beneficial experience to their lives. According to Emmaus team members, the trip was beneficial for ALL participants, “The guys really felt that they had a sense of mission and were giving of themselves to help out with a worthy cause.”
The Heifer Project has helped more than one million impoverished families around the world become more self-reliant through the gift of livestock and training in its care.
- Adapted from the Emmaus Messenger, 1995
There is nothing that harvests more of a feeling of empowerment than being of service to those in need. For more than 3 years, Mastercard volunteers have taken a great weight off our staff’s shoulders by doing just that.
Most know Mastercard as one of the world’s largest payment processing networks, but did you know about their commitment to volunteerism? From local projects to global challenges, Mastercard has created an enduring impact on the communities where they live and do business. It’s not surprising that for the 3rd year in a row, Mastercard was named one of 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies which recognizes organizations for their role in influencing positive change around the world.
Emmaus has seen Mastercard’s devotion in action as their volunteers have accomplished a large variety of tasks at many of our community homes; from intensive yardwork to widening driveways and building walkways. This year alone, volunteers from Mastercard have already done LOTS of landscaping, power washing, interior and exterior painting, and office work for Emmaus.
At one of their most recent projects, Mastercard volunteers helped prepare a home for move-in day, which involved 8 hours of cleaning and packing. They also worked on another home in St. Charles to completely replace all the landscaping and rock work for a huge curb appeal upgrade. Soon they’ll switch gears and work inside to assemble more than 600 gifts for Direct Support Professionals Week.
Helping with these work projects not only supports our clients and staff, it also provides an educational and uplifting experience for the volunteers. Many volunteers leave feeling like they have gained a better understanding about Emmaus' services along with new, valuable connections within their own communities.
Mastercard is one of over 50 unique corporations, organizations, churches and schools that provide volunteer service to Emmaus annually, whom we depend upon to help meet our mission. To date, 132 Mastercard volunteers have clocked in a total of 413 service hours at 16 different homes throughout St. Louis and St. Charles counties. It takes a village to move a mountain, or sometimes just a dedicated volunteer group!