Bo and Casey Hilty met at the 2005 National Convention. Bo was serving as the Senior Vice President on National Council, as well as the Gamma Theta Chapter Alumni Advisor, and Casey had just graduated from Louisiana State University. What brought them together was their commitment to service and impacting communities. Bo was a Teach for America (TFA) Corps Members and Casey was contemplating applying (and would later be accepted). Fast-forward ten or so years and the Hiltys continue to put service at the forefront of their lives - this time in a different part of the world.
Unlike typical newlyweds, the Hiltys decided to forego their honeymoon. “Because I was teaching when we got married, we didn’t want to take a honeymoon. I didn’t want to leave my students for a week. So, we always said we wanted to go somewhere amazing for our 10th anniversary,” says Casey. They decided to join their church on a mission trip to Haiti. “I cannot imagine a better way to have celebrated ten years together than by serving side by side on a mission trip on what would be a life-changing experience for both of us.” After their first trip in February of 2016, they continued to make the trip, but this time as team leaders and facilitators as they visited again in April of 2017.
The impact that the Hiltys and their team have had on the community of Petit Trou in Haiti is inspiring. From raising funds to rebuild homes that have been devastated by fires to delivering food boxes to shut-ins and the elderly as well as just being in community with the people - it’s all a joy for both the Hiltys and those they are serving. “We have learned so much about the strength of community. It is unlike anything we have ever experienced,” explains Casey. “Everyone spends time outside working side by side, helping each other, washing together, cooking together, raising families together. It is a beautifully rich culture with strength and resilience like nothing else.” Haiti is a country that has suffered many natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. The Hiltys share a Haitian phrase with us: “Dye mon, gen mon. Beyond the mountains, more mountains. As soon as they have reached the peak of a mountain, there is a larger one to climb next. And yet, they persevere.”
The Hiltys had many stories to share with us about how their trips to Haiti impacted both their lives and the Petit-Trou community. One such story involved a man in the community, named Frannet, who could not see. They met Frannet on their first visit and when they came back on their second trip, two new team members on the trip had asked what his diagnosis was, but he had never been to a doctor so he didn’t know. The team paid for him to travel to the nearest eye doctor, which was nearly four hours away! Casey is excited to say that “As of October 2017, he has just had his second surgery and his vision has been restored!” Had the team not met Frannet or offered to support him in getting to a doctor, he could have lived without vision his entire life.
Bo and Casey will be returning to Haiti in February of 2018 for their third trip, and this time they will be adding a third Hilty! “After we returned from our trip in April, our oldest son, age 10, said he really wanted to come on the next trip,” says Casey. “Last year, we had a 12-year-old on our team and she was able to reach and relate to the children in Petit Trou better than any of us adults. We are excited for what James’ presence will do for the children there. We hope he will walk away from this trip growing in his faith, learning more about serving and loving others, and recognizing the privileges he has been given in this life and exploring ways to use that to better serve those in need. We also hope he discovers what his gifts are so he can better serve others.” They also have an eight-year-old son, John, and a five-year-old daughter, Lena. Casey says “We know that Haiti will be a part of the rest of our lives, and hopefully the lives of our children and their children as well.
Phi Sigma Pi Chapters and Members impact their communities in many ways through serving. However, if you get the opportunity to travel abroad for a service trip, the Hilty’s encourage you to go! Casey says “Immersing yourself in a new culture, living among the people, seeing how they serve each other, how they live life together, these are things that we just do not learn from the comfort of our home. It changes you. Also, for the people whom you serve abroad, your presence gives them hope.”
Save the date! Day of Giving is the greatest day of the year to give back to the Phi Sigma Pi programs and events that impact the lives of our Members and their communities. Join us on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 as we come together for our Fraternity in support of Scholarship, Leadership and Fellowship.