NEWS | March 7, 2016

La Paz leaders, JTF-Bravo coordinate volunteer effort

By Capt. Christopher Mesnard Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The Joint Task Force-Bravo Chaplin's office and the Municipality of La Paz, along with community leaders from Tierra Colorada, La Paz, Honduras conducted a volunteer event Mar. 5, 2016, at Tierra Colorada, Honduras, after months of planning and gathering food and supplies.

During the planning phase of these events, known as Chapel Hikes, the JTF-Bravo Chaplin and Civil Affairs Officer liaised with community leaders in the area, to help determine the number of people they would be able to provide support to and the specific supplies which they needed most.

"There are about 500 or 600 people from 5 different communities present," said Wilmer Alexander Vásquez, Tierra Colorada community leader. "Most people see this as something very positive. Everything is done in order so people are able to welcome you guys and we do everything in perfect solidarity with the whole village and it's a benefit that they take as something good."

The Chapel Hikes first began in 2007 as a part of a limited outreach program, but the success and desire to keep conducting the missions led to an enduring program, making this hike the 66th iteration. The overall mission for the Chapel Hikes has remained the same--work with local leaders to provide for those in need and help the two different groups of people bridge cultural gaps.

"The Chapel Hikes give us a greater appreciation for our own personal circumstances," said Chaplain (Capt.) Timothy Dahl, JTF-Bravo command chaplain. "The greatest feedback we receive is that [our] people have an appreciation for the villagers and the gratitude that they show us when we reach the end of the hike. People realize that [the Hondurans] are thankful for our presence."

The hikes cover a variety of terrain, from flat roads to steep mountainous terrain, like that of Chapel Hike 66, and all end in an area designated by local leaders where members of low income households can meet to take home a bag of supplies that typically contains rice, beans and other dry goods.
During this hike more than 3,000 pounds of food were delivered to over 150 families from the communities of Las Moras, Yampas, Casa Viejas, La Peña, Agua Fria, Los Nichos and Tierra Colorada, after the 2.3 mile hike.
"We thank Joint Task Force-Bravo for supporting us and taking us into considerations and we look forward to coordinating events in the future," said Vásquez. "We thank each and every one of you, we thank the Mayor's office and everyone who takes part in this event. Thank you very much and thanks to God--everything went according to plan."

The next hike is currently planned to take place in about two months, and according to Chaplain Dahl, base members are already excited to go and lend a helping hand to the Hondurans who enjoy the service.