SHOW LOW — Brianna McCaleb, 17, is a Show Low High School senior about to embark on a summer mission to the Yucatan.

Her trip will be organized through Humanitarian Experience For Youth — or HEFY.

HEFY describes its trips for teens ages 16 to 19 as “exhilarating, exhausting and unforgettable,” which sounds exactly like what Brianna is looking for.

In fact, Brianna is not only excited about the opportunity to travel, she is looking forward to participating in something that supports her interest in healthcare.

“I love to learn about the medical field,” Brianna said.

At 17, she has already earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification and says, “Being a CNA also has given me the opportunity to assist the elderly, which is something that I enjoy.”

“I hate seeing the elderly who are lonely or ill, and by assisting in building a clinic for those people, I hope to ease those burdens and put a smile on their face,” she said.

Her mission is July 12-28 and is specifically designed to serve a small community on the outskirts of the city of Merida, Mexico, which lies on the Yucatan Peninsula. According to HEFY, her group will be involved in building a health clinic for a shelter that serves and cares for the abandoned elderly community.

Brianna will have the opportunity to visit with elderly residents and help teach English in the local schools. According to HEFY, rural areas such as Merida are selected because such rural and impoverished towns or villages often “receive little or no funding from the government.”

“I hope to be able to serve the people in the Yucatan Peninsula in a way that will change their lives as well as mine,” Brianna said.

Getting to know the culture, practicing her Spanish and helping others are top of the list for Brianna.

“Service is something that I love to do; inspiring and serving other people helps me to see the good in others and in myself,” she explains.

Brianna’s mother, Kara, hopes that her daughter “goes out into the world with a wider vision of the human experience.”

“I would like her to see how there are many people in the world who are not as fortunate as she is so that she can have a better appreciation for her blessings and increase her willingness to reach beyond herself with love and service to others,” Kara said.

Kara explained that the HEFY organization was founded in 1999 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was originally called the Alliance for Youth Services or AYS. As the program expanded, the name changed to HEFY.

“While the program does help develop Christian principles such as service and love, the kids are required to follow the standard of the LDS church while on the trip. They do activities such as attending the LDS temple when available. However, it is not an official church-sponsored trip – it is an organization founded by members themselves,” Kara said.

In addition to asking for donations, Brianna also plans to get a summer job to help earn the money to pay for her trip. The HEFY organization also requires that participants agree to follow the rules and abide by the LDS code of conduct.

For information about HEFY, or to assist Brianna with her trip, visit www.hefy.org/index.php/donate-here/ and use the name “Brianna McCaleb.”

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government and Show Low Unified School District.

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