Niles High School graduates Erica Gordon and Courtney Fleeker-Holmes provided medical assistance to the needy during a trip to Costa Rica last year. The friends are going on a medical trip to Jamaica in June. Submitted photo

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Niles grads to help Jamaica

Published 5:28pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two Niles High School graduates are putting a spin on the typical summer vacation.

Erica Gordon and Courtney Fleeker-Holmes are travelling to Jamaica, but not for recreational purposes. They are going there to provide medical care for the country’s needy citizens.

Gordon and Fleeker-Holmes, both of the Class of 2009, will be in May Pen, Jamaica, from June 2-10.

With a population around 60,000, May Pen is located in the south-central portion of the island.

Gordon and Fleeker-Holmes will be traveling in a group with seven others with International Service Learning, an organization that enlists medical and educational volunteer teams to do service work in underserved countries.

Both are juniors at Grand Valley State University. Gordon is studying biomedical sciences ,and Fleeker-Holmes is a clinical exercise science and Spanish major.

The friends, who call themselves “mission-trip buddies,” are taking their second service trip together to a foreign country. They went to Costa Rica last year.

“I had the greatest time of my life last year in Costa Rica. It was a life-changing experience for me,” Fleeker-Holmes said. “When Erica talked about going to Jamaica, I knew I wanted to go, too.”

The pair will be providing general health care to local needy, including interviewing patients and checking vital signs under the supervision of a doctor.

“I think it will be a more poverty-stricken area than where we were in Costa Rica,” Gordon said. “You can hear about it and you can see it on TV, but you really don’t know until you are there.

“When we were in Costa Rica, we saw people with a lot of parasites, lice and dehydration, but I am not sure what we will be treating in Jamaica.”

Gordon and Fleeker-Holmes weren’t best friends in high school, but have grown closer while attending the same university and going on last year’s trip to Costa Rica.

“You definitely get a little too close. More close than you would really like to in those nine days,” Gordon said.

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