Canton, MS

Dates: March 28th-April 4th
Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants
Cost: $550

Quick Facts:

  • Work on the front lines in the fight against poverty
  • Experience the beauty and history of the southern United States

Host Community:

MadCAAP is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting families living in poverty in Madison County Mississippi. MadCAAP was founded in 1985 by Sister Mary Grace McGuire. She assembled some citizens who were concerned about the needs of the large population of people living in poverty in Madison County. This target group was mainly minority, single women with children. Today MadCAAP has programs in emergency utility and prescription medicine assistance, educational classes for women, a house building and repair program and a clothes and needs closet as well as a food pantry. In addition MadCAAP along with the help of local churches and foundations provides children school uniforms and supplies, sponsors an adopt a family program during the holidays.

Justice Issues:

Housing: MadCAAP does housing repair for the poor, who are usually elderly and/or handicapped, and  build Krista Cottages for poor families with children. The housing repair projects allow people to stay in their own homes in a safe and secure environment; many of these people would have nowhere else to go.

Education: MadCAAP offers a series of classes for women with children twice a year, once in the spring and the fall, on a wide variety of topics designed to assist them in moving their families out of poverty. By attending these classes the women  are given skills in parenting their children, are educated on topics of health and nutrition, are shown the importance of good and bad life choices, and are informed about other topics as needed or requested.   As a result of attending these “New Attitude” classes, they are provided with school supplies and uniforms for their children and helped through our Adopt-A-Family Christmas Program. 

Cultural Opportunities:

A large part of the cultural exchange opportunities on this trip comes in the form of working closely with the community on the building projects. The group will have the opportunity to work alongside community members and other volunteers and hear first hand accounts of people living in Madison County and working hard to elevate the pressures of poverty.  You will experience southern hospitality and some wonderful southern food.

A Sample Week:

Monday:  Wake up to warm southern weather and a breakfast that includes  grits.  You’re not in snowy St. Paul anymore! You’ll be wearing your grubby clothes and be out at the worksite by 8:30am. After a hard days work head back to MadCAAP for some time to unwind, a dinner and end the day with a reflection.

Tuesday: Get back to work.  Today you’ll have knocked the rust off your hammering skills and will be getting into the swing of the service project.  After dinner the group will have the opportunity to hear stories about working in the fight against poverty  in Madision County

Wednesday: The week is already half over.  Keep working hard on the service project.  The group will go out for dinner at an authentic southern restaurant and enjoy a night of unwinding, music, and a reflection

Thursday: Start to wind up the service project today and say goodbyes to the  community.  After dinner watch a documentary on the civil rights movement in Mississippi and end the day with a group reflection.

Friday: Finish up the service project in the morning and take off  for and afternoon hike in the Pearl River wildlife area.  End the trip with a community dinner and final reflection. 

Saturday:  Hit the road early and start heading back home.  VISION road trips are as fun as they come.  The van might be a bit smelly on the ride back but will be filled with songs, great conversations and impromptu stops. 

Food, Lodging, and Travel:

The group will drive a 12-passenger van to Canton and stay at MadCAAP volunteer accommodations which will be dorm room style. The group  prepare and eat meals together.


The trip fee of $550 includes van rental, site transportation, lodging, work materials for the site, meals, and programmed group activities. Additional expenses not included in the program fee, include: spending money  for souvenirs as determined by the group agreement and food en route to site (~$30).

Student Reflection:

“Mississippi was the last trip I led and I could not think of a better way to end my VISION experience. Mississippi is a breath of fresh air. The people are sweeter, the food is delicious and the service is one you will never forget.” 

-Kamal Mohamed