The Kindness of Humanity

Senior helps on mission trips throughout high school career


Emma McAtee, Staff Writer

As graduation approaches, seniors are planning their last summer before college. For senior Kelsey Phillips, helping others is her way of having an amazing summer experience. 

During the past four years, Phillips has gone on mission trips with her church, St. Thomas the Apostle. Phillips first began going when the church went on a trip in 2018 to Houston, Texas. On that trip, she delivered Meals on Wheels for families affected by Hurricane Irma. The next year, she went to Wilmington, North Carolina. 

“While we were there, we did flooring, insulation, and rebuilt stairs for houses totaled by natural disasters,” Phillips said. 

Her most recent mission trip to San Francisco, California in 2022 was the most impactful. Phillips worked with the organization St. Anthony’s in an area with one of the highest rates of people living below the poverty line. In San Francisco, she learned a lot about the importance of personalism. 

“One of the most dehumanizing things is that their power of choice is often removed, meaning they don’t get to pick anything,” Phillips said. “St. Anthony’s tries to give that power of choice back. They run a free fresh food market and clothing boutique that we volunteered to help run.”

Phillips met many people while on the trip and came away with a new mindset. 

“I had lunch with a woman named Irene who is actively experiencing homelessness — I learned so much from her,” she said. “The overall experience was so eye-opening and gave me so much perspective. If there’s one thing I learned it’s that the most important thing is to always acknowledge the existence of a human being — don’t just ignore it.” 

During that trip, Phillips worked with a kids day camp. She taught them science lessons and played outside with them. 

“Many of those kids live below the poverty line and one of them shared the experience with an active shooter that the facility had a couple weeks prior,” Phillips said. “Many of these kids have been through more than any of us will ever experience, and I was super honored to get to spend time around them.”

This coming July, Phillips will travel to Kentucky to help with natural disaster relief and home rebuilding. 

“My church offered this trip — all my friends were going and I wanted to go and help people again,” Phillips said. “I have a great time so I just keep going back.” 

Phillips gains many life lessons and experiences through these missions. 

“Going to Appalachia will give me perspective on rural poverty, which is not something we see that often,” she said. “These trips help me understand what other people are going through. They teach me how to be grateful for what I have.”