Trinity alum returns to campus to complete sevice project

It came time to planning the summer service trip at First Baptist Church in Freeport, Ill. Their typical plan of going to a summer camp to help revitalize it wasn’t an option for youth leader Tyler Hocraffer, a 2014 graduate of Trinity.

Instead of skipping a service trip this year, Hocraffer decided to call his alma mater and see if there was anything he and his three students, Christian Jacobs, 16, Caleb Oliva, 18, and Michael Welch, 17, could do on campus.

“I reached out to Kara Van Marion to see if there was anything, and she said ‘Yeah that’s an awesome idea, I’ll see what we have,’” Hocraffer said. “About a month later, she got back to me and said they had something if we still wanted to come. The whole way here, they were talking in excitement about doing this kind of thing.”

 The group spent the past week painting press boxes and doing other work on campus when the weather wasn’t permitting.

 But the service trips started before Hocraffer was a Trinity alumnus.

 Growing up, Hocraffer’s youth minister would take groups of students to do service work throughout the community, giving kids and young adults the chance to do give back.

 “When I was in youth group between their ages, my youth pastor would take us on youth trips to go and serve at places,” Hocraffer said. “It was always a blast. You don’t usually think of work as a blast, but you’re doing it amongst people that you trust and have fun with, even though it’s stressful.”

 Hocraffer wanted to give the same experience to his students. Since he works full-time as an IT security analyst, he was unable to take the kids to the summer camp where they normally go. Instead of canceling the trip altogether, Hocraffer improvised and thought of his connections with Trinity.

 For this trip, not only was it a chance for Jacobs, Oliva and Welch to help with a service project, but it was a chance for them to start checking out colleges as well.

 “I am actually really excited because this was the first campus I got to tour,” Welch said.

 The group arrived on Sunday afternoon where they settled into their dorm room and prepared for the next three days of work in which they would be painting the soccer press box, rip up rotting turf, and helping to organize the Alumni office.

 But they didn’t only work during their service trip. The group got a tour of campus, met with admissions, and got to experience the life of a Trinity student. They went to Nonna’s Pizza and did the Nonna’s Challenge, got ice cream from The Plush Horse, and had some free time to swim.

 The group departed from campus on Thursday, leaving with a completed service project and memories of their week at Trinity. And now, Trinity Athletics will have a freshly painted soccer press box for the upcoming season. 

 “We are incredibly thankful for the work Tyler and his group put in to painting our press box,” said Eric Salley, the head men’s soccer coach. “The fresh new look helps the Schaaf Athletics Complex continue to be a great venue to play and watch soccer in the CCAC.”

 And for the group, they were able to stick with their theme of the trip coming from James 2:17: “…faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”