"Why Not" - How Bridget Became Globally Compassionate


The dirt and grit was caked to my old, stained tennis shoes. My forehead was dripping salty sweat into my tired eyes. Our group had been working all week constructing a small shack – large enough to fit a family of four, in Tijuana, Mexico. We were near the finish line – almost done with our project. As I reflected on that hot roof about our experience in Mexico, with a nail gun in hand, I realized that I was never more proud to be so tired.

I went on this trip to Mexico with my youth church from my faith community when I was in 7th grade. I knew I loved to travel. I knew I loved people. But little did I know how this trip would forever change me.

In 7th grade, I was focused on my friends, soccer, church and school. My world was about as big as my small town. I couldn’t conceptualize poverty, hunger or struggle because I had never truly seen it. When the opportunity arose for me to join a group of teens my age from all over the U.S. to go to Mexico to serve, I said, “why not?”

I spent about a week in Mexico. We were located just over the wealthy California board in the outskirts of Tijuana, the poorest slums in the area. Our job as a team was to construct a small home for a family. I thought that I was embarking on an adventure that would help others. I thought I would be going to Mexico to build a house, help people and leave. However, between roofing and nailing siding to the house – I met people. Real people, like you and me. I played soccer with teenage girls my age. I knew Spanish, so I was able to ask them about their lives – what did they like to eat? What did they do during the day? Did they have many friends?

By the end of the trip, I quickly realized that the girls I met in Tijuana were happy – truly joyful. Their joy did not come from a new pair of shoes they bought, or the new iPhone they purchased. They were joyful with so little – and it made me realize how beautiful that simple joy was. While I worried about my new outfit, these girls lived in complete poverty – with no option to go to school, to grow and to learn. Because I hit the geographic lottery, I was born the U.S. – where I could go up in a safe home, with healthy foods and the right to vote and learn. It didn’t seem fair.

Because of that trip, I was unable to look at life the same again. Since that time, I have served on several service trips, worked for a family homeless shelter, and now I am a grant funder – providing funds to local nonprofits who are changing our community for the better.

Our world is so much bigger than the school we go to, the town we live in – or even the country we occupy. Had it not been for the first trip in 7th grade to Mexico, I would be a very different person now. That trip taught me humility, compassion and that I could do something to make a difference. You don’t need to be an adult to make a BIG impact in our world – you just need to get started by making an impact on something that matters to you.