By Bailey Putnam, deputy sports editor
Two members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), women’s ice hockey forward Chelsey Goldberg and volleyball middle hitter Alexa Armstrong, both seniors, will travel to Africa from July 3-13 with the Care for Kenya program to deliver school and sports supplies to Kenyan students.
The idea was first presented to the SAAC by former student-athlete Myles Mason (CSSH ‘13). Mason, who was a sprinter on the track team, volunteers with Care for Kenya and reached out to his alma mater in search of donations for the organization.
Care for Kenya was started last year by True Start Athletics, a “nonprofit organization dedicated to the academic, athletic and cultural development of individuals, as well as the greater community as a whole,” according to its website.
Representative Justin Bell said the SAAC members were so moved by the efforts of the organization that they wanted to go beyond donations.
SAAC Vice President Armstrong was one of those students.
“When [Mason] was looking to us for help, I immediately wanted to get involved,” Armstrong said. “It just seems like such a simple solution for us as student athletes to be able to reach out and help those in need.”
Involvement in the project will be a brand new experience for Armstrong and Goldberg who have never traveled for volunteer work.
Traveling to Africa from July 3 to 13 will also be new to SAAC President Goldberg, who has been playing hockey for the past 14 years. Goldberg has never left North America and has only traveled to Canada for hockey tournaments.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Armstrong said. “It’s such a new experience and just a great opportunity for me to be able to make a difference.”
Going to Africa has been a long-time dream of Goldberg’s.
“I’ve always wanted to travel and I’ve always been interested in helping others,” Goldberg said. “I guess I just put those two together and have wanted to travel to Africa to give back. When this opportunity was presented to me, I reached out to the organization and they said they’d love to have NU students travel with them.”
Goldberg brought the idea back to Northeastern and it agreed to fund part the the trip for her and Armstrong.
According to Bell, the program and efforts of the student athletes are representative of the overarching ideals of the university.
“It fits in with the idea that Northeastern is a global university that gives back to its community,” Bell said. “I think this opportunity kills two birds with one stone.”
This year marks the second year that Care for Kenya has sent supplies to Africa and the first year that students have been involved to help teach the beneficiaries how to use the sporting equipment. True Start Athletics hopes to further expand the fledgeling project, starting by sending four students next summer, Bell said.
The opportunity will be influential in different ways for the students in Kenya, as well as NU students, according to Armstrong.
“It’s going to be amazing to make such an impact and see how such simple things can make such a difference,” Armstrong said. “I think it’s going to really hit home how much I’ve taken for granted the things I’ve been given and the blessed life I’ve gotten from being a full-scholarship athlete.”
Donations to help pay for the students lodging can be made on the Northeastern Catalyst website.
The SAAC is also accepting donations of backpacks, pens, pencils (regular or colored), notebooks, clipboards, frisbees, jump ropes, measuring tape, sneakers, soccer balls, stop watches and reusable water bottles. Donations can be delivered to Justin Bell in the Cabot Center.
Photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics