Lakewood Ranch teens chose humanitarian work over the beach in Jamaica.
To her friends, Rachel Consiglio’s eight-day trip to Jamaica in June must have sounded like a relaxing beach vacation.
But Consiglio, a Greenbrook resident who will be a senior at Cardinal Mooney in the fall, wasn’t in Jamaica to work on her tan.
For the second consecutive summer, Consiglio spent her time with Pivotal Directions, a service workforce. She worked as a teacher’s assistant working with students ages 3-6, and also helped tear down a house that later would be rebuilt for a local resident.
Among those making the trip June 4-11 was Consiglio’s friend, Country Club’s Emma Eliason, who also will be a senior at Cardinal Mooney.
“We love the kids, and we love helping the people there,” Consiglio said. “It helps me appreciate what I have more.”
For consecutive years, Consiglio and Eliason went to Riverton City, St. Andrew, Jamaica. Helping in the effort to provide homes has been a highlight for Eliason.
She said the trip humbled her because she considers the many gifts she has in her own life as compared to those living in Jamaica.
“It made me realize we would come home and go to prom and football games,” Eliason said. “And then the next year if we come back, these kids will still be there, sitting exactly where we left them.”
Although Eliason wants to eventually work in occupational therapy, she wants to continue taking mission trips.
“I think there’s a difference between having a purpose in life and having a passion in life,” she said. “My passion in life might be doing occupational therapy, but my purpose in life is helping those kids.”