PADUCAH, KY (01/18/2018) Nearly 100 West Kentucky Community and Technical College students have had the opportunity to help the people of El Salvador over the past five years as part of the college's Service Learning Study Abroad trip.
One of those students is 19-year-old Kyle Garner of Paducah, who traveled to El Salvador each of his last three years at McCracken County High School, and will make his first trip with WKCTC this March.
"I feel like I have a call from God to help the less fortunate and to help them in any way I can," said Garner, who serves as the social media coordinator for WKCTC's Student Government Association. He said the college's Service Learning program is giving him the opportunity to keep serving those who are in need in El Salvador. "The past three times (I have gone to El Salvador)…you come back completely changed from the experiences and everything you see….it's so awesome to be able to continue to get to go."
The college is hosting a t-shirt fundraiser to help fund service learning projects for Garner and other WKCTC students while in El Salvador in March.
"Selling the t-shirts is one of our primary sources of funding. Without the money, we wouldn't be able to build a house for a struggling family or feed the homeless," said Garner.
Steve Portillo, Operations Manager for Sus Hijos (His Children), the organization visiting service learning groups work with to help the citizens of El Salvador, recently made his first trip to the United States to talk with students and organizers about El Salvador. He said WKCTC students have been providing teams to do good works in El Salvador.
"They visited orphanages; they have built houses; they have fed the homeless, fed entire communities; and that's something that we need in El Salvador - people that show love and compassion," said Portillo. "Working with the college and other organizations and Starfish, they are 'providing hope' and about telling people, 'we know you need a little push.. so we are going to help you start and set up a new life."
Portillo said most of the people who travel to El Salvador, see the need and will be touched. The money raised before the trip makes the difference in the amount of help that can be provided.
"If they (the students) sell t-shirts and fundraise properly…they will have the freedom and the ability to do more."
Jennifer Frazier, WKCTC coordinator for this year's college Service Learning program, said the community's help in purchasing the El Salvador t-shirts is vital to make this year's student trip possible.
"It is an indescribable feeling to be a part of watching our students as they serve and learn in El Salvador," said Frazier. "The help they provide to the people of El Salvador leaves a long-lasting impact; one the students will never forget."
El Salvador t-shirts are $20 and can be purchased by contacting Jennifer Frazier at firstname.lastname@example.org or (270) 534-3229. The deadline to purchase t-shirts is February 1.
West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) has been recognized four consecutive times by The Aspen Institute as an Aspen Prize Top 10 Community College and twice as a Finalist with Distinction for providing students with strong job training and continuing higher education opportunity, for achieving high completion and transfer rates, and for providing strong employment results for its graduates.