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LPHS student leaves for S. America to help children, people

February 22, 2010
ERIC VOORHIS, News Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID — The only foreign country Lake Placid High School senior Molly McConnell had ever been to was Canada which according to her doesn’t really count.

But on Feb. 14 she left for a week-long volunteer trip — led by the North Country Mission for Hope — to Managua, Nicaragua, where she plans to help care for children at an orphanage, work with a team to build shelters and hand out food and medical supplies to impoverished residents in the capital of Central America’s poorest country.

North Country Mission for Hope — a spiritually based humanitarian organization — has been committed to helping the people of Nicaragua since 1998 when they provided aid after the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Mitch. According to the organization’s Web site, the Mission has since formed ties with many local leaders in Nicaragua and seeks to improve lives through sustainable programs in education, healthcare, community and ecological development.

“A friend of mine was volunteering at North Country Mission for Hope in Plattsburgh,” McConnell said. “When I started to hear more and more about their efforts, I knew I wanted to join.”

The mission trip to Nicaragua was scheduled to leave three days prior to Valentine’s Day, but plans were delayed when a massive blizzard rolled up the East Coast, shutting down major airports.

McConnell said she would have been really disappointed if the trip was canceled.

“I had been looking forward to it for weeks,” McConnell said. “I couldn’t believe it when it was postponed and I’m just really happy things worked out.”

McConnell is taking on the humanitarian effort as her senior project and hopes it will be helpful in her pursuits after graduation.

“I want to go into social work in the next few years,” McConnell said. “So this is exactly the type of thing I want to be doing right now.”

Before students take on a senior project it must be approved by Principal Dave Messner, who said he was impressed by McConnell’s undertaking.

“Molly is actualizing a dream,” Messner said. “She has a belief in helping people and she’s out there following that belief.”

North Country Mission for Hope supports several health care and medical facilities in Managua, such as Juan Pablo Baby Orphanage and El Crucero Girl’s Orphanage, where McConnell is most likely stationed. Prior to leaving, she had a good sense of what the trip would be like after talking to mission leaders, but was also comfortable with uncertainty.

“Parts of the trip are definitely going to be a surprise when I get down there,” McConnell said. “It’s not like I have a detailed itinerary or anything. It’ll probably be something new everyday.”

McConnell said she was excited about the chance to help improve the lives of others, especially young children.

“It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience,” she said.

Contact Eric Voorhis at 523-4401 or

Article Photos

Lake Placid High School senior Molly McConnell and sister Debbie Blow of the North Country Mission for Hope at a recent Nica Fiesta event.

Photo provided

Fact Box

For more about North Country Mission for Hope,



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