Press-Republican

Amazing Neighbors

February 18, 2014

Mission of Hope executes plan B

PLATTSBURGH — Canceled flights don’t stop North Country Mission of Hope.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, more than half of the contingent for the annual February mission in Nicaragua piled onto a bus outside Seton Catholic Central School headed for Newark.

Behind them waited a pickup truck packed with suitcases.

The group of 37 had been set to fly from Burlington to the New Jersey airport early Tuesday, but that flight was canceled Monday.

“They are claiming weather,” Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow said at about 1:40 p.m. Monday, emphasis on “claiming,” as no storms were in sight.

GOT SEATS BACK

The mission became getting the group to Newark.

And then the airline canceled the connecting flights to Houston and then Managua, Blow said.

“I called and said, ‘You can’t do that,’” she said above the hubbub in the Seton cafeteria as volunteers gathered their things to depart. “‘You can’t bump people presuming they won’t make their next stop.’

“They scrambled and gave us our seats back,” she was pleased to report.

Blow arranged bus transport from Ground Force 1 in Plattsburgh, which provided a substantial discount.

And she recruited volunteers’ parents and others to help reach all the travelers, letting them know they’d be leaving about 12 hours earlier than expected.

They relied on phone, texting and Facebook, said Sara St. Louis of Peru, whose daughters, Allison, 18, and Abigail, 16, are first-time missioners.

“My girls are so excited, it doesn’t bother them at all,” she said of the altered departure time and mode of transport.

Every single missioner rallied to make the early deadline, Mrs. St. Louis added.

The volunteers, many of them high-school students, were primed for a week in Nicaragua, when they will help improve lives by building home shelters, running medical clinics, painting and making other improvements at schools and a hospital and, among other projects, delivering food to the poor.

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