“Live strong and pay it forward!” That’s Melinda Nabholz Smith’s motto. It could also be the theme for a week that she, ten of her cousins and three spouses spent together in volunteer service in Belize, Central America in January 2007.

This is how it all started. Inspired by their grandparents, Mary and Emil Nabholz, 42 cousins decided to form a “2nd generation” group, called 2GT42’ers (2nd generation trust, 42 cousins). They have a cousins’ newsletter and have pledged as a family to annually support charitable endeavors, including those of their aunts, Sisters Teresa Rose and Emily who are members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

The cousins took the next step in involvement when they decided to travel to Belize, Central America, through the SCN Lay Mission Volunteer Program to participate in a unique “Belize Building Blitz.”

“This is the first time we’ve had a family volunteer together,” explains Patsy O’Toole, Director of Congregational Advancement. “My hope is that other families will hear about this and be inspired to do the same.”

The group arrived in Belize on Jan. 14, 2007 and over the next seven days, built a 16’x16’wooden home for a woman in need. They also visited ministry sites of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and Hand in Hand Ministries, experienced the warmth of the Belizean people and deepened bonds as a family.

One cousin, Steven McNeil said, “In my business, I’ve donated to mission trips but I’ve never had the guts, the courage, to go on one before. When this group decided to go, I felt it was something I needed to do. After going, I realize it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

The new homeowner, Caroline, worked alongside the family as they built her home. During the house blessing, Susan Nabholz Denys explained to Caroline, “When our great grandparents came to the U.S. from Switzerland, all their money was stolen and if it wasn’t for the grace of people who gave them food, shelter, clothing and helped them to establish their home, we wouldn’t be here today. So, it is our honor and our privilege to be here with you. We have shared with you our blood, sweat, and tears of joy. We will be with you in our hearts and in your home.” With emotion, Caroline responded, “I would like to say thanks very much for leaving your families to come help me in Belize, for helping me make my dreams come true…Thanks from the bottom of my heart.”

The Nabholz family took another trip to Belize in January 2008.