Why Domestic Trips?

Since the pandemic began, we have been hearing from parents about how much they want their child to have the kind of life-changing experience in a faith-based environment that many of them experienced as youth. The events of 2020 have caused isolation, stress, and missed opportunities for too many youth.

Each Domestic Alternative trip will include the three major elements of the HEFY methodology:

  1. a difficult but much needed construction project
  2. the chance to bond with 19 peers from your same faith (and usually a few friends of other faiths who have agreed to follow the HEFY standards), led by two inspiring young Trip Leaders
  3. a digital detox that allows you the spiritual space to consider whether the person you are becoming is consistent with who you want to be.

Far too often over the years, we have received feedback about how there are people in America who need us just as much as our friends overseas, and how we don’t need to travel to different continents to find people to serve. This year, for the first time, HEFY is going to prove that idea to be true, and we hope our Builders learn this lesson in a profound and lasting way.

Our team is working incredibly hard this year to plan double our normal amount of trips, so that in the event that you can’t travel internationally to your chosen destination, you can still experience the HEFY magic on a Domestic Alternative trip. Regardless of where we go, we believe we will be serving those who need us most.

About 14-16 Year Olds:

In the Spring, after the international situation becomes more clear, we will announce whether we can open some of the Domestic Trips to 14-16 year olds – (here’s hoping)! At that point we will provide all the details for how the younger Builders can sign up.

We may do a “pre-registration” for 14-16 year olds in January in order to get a sense of how many younger Builders would be interested in this option, so if you have or know a Builder in this age group, make sure they’re signed up now for our emails (by making an account on our site) so they can be sure to stay in the loop.

A few FAQs about Domestic Trips:

  1. We anticipate being able to refund you the difference in costs should you be assigned to a domestic trip rather than an international. Keep in mind that while we will save money on international flights, the cost of building, lodging, and food in the United States is much higher than it is internationally, so the cost variation may not be very significant.
  2. We will not make final decisions about reassigning an international trip until Spring. This decision will be made based on country restrictions around COVID-19, flight availability, and other prohibitory issues that would prevent HEFY from running safe trips.
  3. We will not announce which of the domestic trips would replace a particular international trip until that decision becomes necessary.
  4. We will reassign groups as a whole, not as individuals. That way, after the GroupMe groups are opened in January, you can stay with the 2021 Builders with whom you’ve already started to bond.

*NOTE: The Domestic Alternative program was instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do anticipate that certain aspects of this program will change over time given the evolving nature of global health risks. Any updates to this policy will be shared with registered Builders and made available on our website. Deferred builders are ineligible for refunds.

Here's a sneak peak of a few of the Domestic Projects currently in the works*:

Hawaii is the number one state for homelessness among children. The average age of a homeless person in Hawaii is 5 years old. We will be building a transitional center for these families to keep them safe and teach self-reliance.

Louisiana’s poverty rate is the highest in the nation. Almost a fifth of the state is currently living in poverty. We will be partnering with a disaster relief organization to help rebuild homes after the recent hurricanes and flooding.

In Alaska, the opioid crisis has hit the indiginous people particularly hard, and they continue to suffer because of a lack of services available. We will be building additional capacity for a local behavioral health clinic, which is bridging the gap between traditional and western therapy practices.

In West Virginia there is a coal mine community in which 60% of the families live in poverty. 65 of those families were scheduled for home improvement before the pandemic, but were unable to receive services due to lack of volunteers. We will be partnering with a rebuilding organization to make the homes warmer, safer, and drier.

Puerto Rico was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Maria, which damaged 53% of all structures. We will be partnering with a disaster relief organization to restore safe and secure homes.

A Christ-centered ministry in rural Maine is helping people in need stay in their homes by providing vital repairs. Their motto is “reaching the last house on the last road.” We will partner with them to roof, build porches and ramps, and otherwise improve living conditions for local families.

*HEFY is currently in the process of planning these trips with partners across America. None of these trips are guaranteed, and all are subject to change or alteration throughout the year based on the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic Trips will be added or cancelled at any point depending on the circumstances.

Finally, a little background on how this happened:

These domestic trips have come together in ways that felt miraculous in their own rights. This year, as a result of the global situation, there are people across America who need us as much as (or sometimes even more than) the people we normally serve in emerging countries.

As soon as we started reaching out, the stories of loss and worry were almost overwhelming. All throughout the country people have lost their homes, jobs, and sometimes even their families. We heard stories of lingering devastation as a result of the hurricanes that hit the South, of homeless kids who no longer have a shelter where they feel safe, of indigenous people who lost everything when the pandemic hit, and so many more just like these.

Often, when we would reach out with offers to help, our call was met with tears of relief from people who have long been praying for help. Suffice it to say that regardless of where you end up this summer, you’ll be doing construction projects that make lives safer, warmer, and better – and your service will be needed and well received.