CHICAGO- The summer of 2009 changed the lives of some of the members of the Saint Xavier University women's cross country and track team, after their week long service trip to Belize.  Lauren Dentzman, Dana Eppley, and Krista Olenek went to Belize to help build a home for a family.   "My group built a house for a family, a woman with two children and a baby on the way" commented Dentzman.  "Before we helped build the house, they were living in an old shack that was honestly falling apart."  The group was able to build the family a one room, small, yellow wood house.  They also chipped in to buy the family a mattress to sleep on and more supplies.  

"On the last day, we did a house blessing and we were able to present the family with the key to their new home through song and prayer," said Dentzman.  "It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever been a part of. The family was so grateful to have received a tiny house, without running water, that would have seemed "unlivable" to American standards. The woman cried and thanked God and us for giving them a home. We worked together with Hand in Hand Ministries in Belize for this project. Hand in Hand Ministries hopes to empower the people that they work with. The next year, a new SXU group went to build a house and the woman that we helped build a house for was on the worksite everyday, working hard to "pay it forward" and build a house for someone else."

"This experience truly changed my life," said Dentzman, as she described her experience and the impact it had on her.  "It truly opened my eyes to the world's inequalities as well as the beauty of empowerment and hopefulness. This experience of witnessing poverty firsthand truly moved me and inspired me in a profound passion for service and promoting peace, love, justice, and human dignity for the rest of my life. My trip to Belize was the beginning of my journey that made a mark on my heart forever."

After their experience in Belize, Lauren and Dana, along with teammate Barb Roman, formed an organization called L.O.V.E. (Love Of Valuing Everyone).  Their mission is to reach out in love to populations less fortunate and to encourage others to do the same.

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