METHUEN — Since an early age, Natalie Slabcynski, Elizabeth Friedrich and Colleen Braga have been active in church as altar servers, lectors, and teaching Sunday school.
This winter, the members of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish will put their faith to work as they travel to the Dominican Republic Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 to work at an orphanage for children with disabilities and distributing food to Haitian refuges.
“It’s a great thing to do to help the poorest of the poor and expand my horizons,” Slabcynski said.
“It’s good for us to experience how other people live so when we complain about getting something, we can think of the people who have no food. It will show us not to take things for granted,” Braga said.
Braga, Slabcynski, and Friedrich, all juniors at Lowell Catholic, are among 12 students who will be going on the mission trip through Mustard Seed Communities. Mustard Seed established the orphanage in 2001 in Cangrejo, on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, a town known for its resorts visited by tourists from around the world.
The group will be working at Hogar Immanuel, an orphanage caring for 12 disabled children and Batey La Union, a village near Sosua garbage dump where many Haitian refugees live.
“We want to show them that they are not as different as they think they are,” Friedrich said.
Other than being nervous about the girls’ first trip overseas, their parents said it will be an enriching experience for them.
“I’m more excited for the experience she will get from helping others and how much she’s going to gain,” said Braga’s mother, Christine Ferrara.
The trip costs $1,800 for each student. Braga, Slabcynski, and Friedrich have been holding events to raise money. On Thursday, they held a fundraiser at The Irish Cottage in Methuen where they received 20 percent of the evening’s proceeds. The restaurant made an extra donation for the number of people who attended. The girls and their parents also held a 50/50 raffle and gift baskets, which raised $581. The students had previously held a pancake breakfast and bean supper at the church. Their next fundraising event will be a night of Irish music in December.