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Service trip to Honduras

Dave and Fran Mount (standing) pose with family members in Honduras. (Submitted photo) Dave and Fran Mount (standing) pose with family members in Honduras.
Fran and Dave Mount, parishioners of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Burlington, always have been people of faith. There are many ways in which they live and spread that faith. One of the most meaningful ways is their volunteer service in Tela, Honduras.
 
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Mount said. “And it is so rewarding,” his wife added.
 
In February he made his 10th service trip to Honduras; it was her ninth.
 
They travel at their own expense with a Rotary Club of Charlotte-Shelburne group called Hands to Honduras – Tela to work with local tradespeople on various projects like building a dormitory to house 10 pregnant women when they arrive in the city from outlying areas as they near their due date but have no place to stay until they are admitted to the hospital.
 
The Vermont group also has built and equipped a neonatal intensive care unit, created a new-mother training center at the hospital and remodeled the pediatric ward.
 
Most of the building projects are done in four weeks over two years; they are funded through donations, grants and fundraisers
 
This year’s trip took place from Feb. 11-25 and included 47 volunteers, mostly from Vermont, including some medical personnel.
 
The Mounts – retired from the temporary staffing agency they owned – enjoy the service trips. “It’s fun to get my hands dirty,” Mrs. Mount said with a smile.
 
“The local people get involved and do work we don’t know how to do,” Mr. Mount explained.
 
But the couple has come home with new skills over the years. Mrs. Mount has learned about masonry, and her husband can make rebar. “A lot of it is just sheer determination,” she said, noting that sometimes there is no easy access to water, which must be “lugged” to work sites.
 
“We are helping our brothers and sisters in faith,” Mr. Mount said.
 
Through the years the Mounts have taken some family members to Tela with them to help. (They have five children, 16 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.) “It’s important for the kids to see what people can live without and spend two weeks not on their computer or technology,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
In addition to their hands-on work in Tela, the Mounts have established a scholarship fund for high school students there to pay for uniforms, books, supplies and even lunches. The scholarship is for about $250 for each of the 10 students currently receiving the scholarship. “These kids can’t do anything without an education. The country is so poor,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
The scholarships are funded though donations.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount are chairs of the Pre-Cana program for the Burlington Deanery; when they give the talk on finances at Pre-Cana programs they emphasize that “money is not everything” and cannot buy happiness, Mr. Mount said.
 
The Mounts spoke of people in Tela, some of whom still use horses and buggies for transportation: “People don’t have much, yet they are very happy people.”
 
“We [Americans] have a really hard time understanding what poverty is about,” he said. “Even ‘poor’ Americans have more [things and comforts] than the middle class in Honduras. And some of that is important to have, like clean water.”
 
In addition to Pre-Cana, the Mounts are involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He is a board member for St. Anne’s Shrine in Isla LaMotte, a member of the finance council at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and a member of the board for the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation. He is also a mentor for SCORE, previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount sing in the folk choir at the co-cathedral and are extraordinary ministers of holy communion at the shrine.
 
They support the poor in their local area through their tithing, and when they owned their business, the business supported local charities. “We’ve always been aware of the poor here and sensitive to them,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
“Honduras made us more aware of the basic needs of people,” Mr. Mount added.
 
Last modified onSunday, 05 March 2017 15:51
Vermont Catholic Magazine © 2016 Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington