Globe-trotting DHS senior on mission to make world a better place

Michelle Stuckey
March 25, 2011 at 8:58 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Globe-trotting DHS senior on mission to make world a better place
While most high school students in Louisiana were catching beads and watching parades two weeks ago, Jonathan Snyder was digging a well that would provide clean water to more than 5,000 people in Haiti.

Snyder, 17, a senior at Destrehan High School, has been doing missionary work since 2008. In his latest trip, he single-handedly raised more than $10,000 locally and then traveled to Haiti with Living Hope Mission to put the money to good use.

Of the money, $3,000 went into building a well for a small community in Haiti and $5,000 went to support a school lunch program for an entire year.

Not only did Snyder raise the money himself, he got his hands dirty helping to dig and install the well.

The well took four days to build, but will give fresh, clean water to almost 6,000 people in the Haitian village.

He got the idea for his recent trip to Haiti after spending last summer doing mission work in India.

“In India this past summer, I saw the need for clean water,” Snyder said. “When I got home God put my heart in Haiti.”

Snyder raised the money by organizing a dress-down day at 10 local schools where students could pay $1 to wear whatever clothes they wanted. He also handed out support letters at Covenant Church in Destrehan, where he is a member, and at businesses throughout the parish.

Besides his most recent trip, Snyder has done mission work in India, Jamaica and South Africa with Teen Mania Ministries and Mexico with Jeremy Dart International Ministries. In Jamaica, he provided food for orphans and conducted Bible school. In South Africa, he taught children and conducted ministry in the slums. In Mexico, he worked with a Christmas outreach to give presents to 500 disadvantaged children.

Snyder has also translated his help in other countries back to St. Charles Parish and southeast Louisiana.

“Whenever we go into the different countries…you see the need for basic necessities. When you get back home, you appreciate everything a lot more,” he said.

Stephen Weber, principal at DHS, has seen Snyder’s growing charity work since Snyder was in the 7th grade.

“Jonathan is the real deal. He’s one of those guys that always…wants to help his fellow man - and that’s been since 7th grade,” Weber, who was also at Harry Hurst Middle School with Snyder, said. “I have not respected a student more than I respect Jonathan Snyder.”

Weber said that Snyder brings the spirit of service to DHS by participating in other opportunities around the community. Snyder volunteers with Boys Town orphanage, Second Harvest Food Bank and the New Orleans Homeless Outreach on a weekly basis.

Snyder said that helping other people makes him feel good, too.

“They appreciate it so much…it just puts a smile on their faces - it’s awesome,” he said.

Weber said that when a disaster happens anywhere in the world, Snyder is the first one at school to start organizing help.

“He has already accomplished more than anybody I know, at his age, to better the human race and I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Jonathan Snyder as he’s able to get out there in the world,” Weber said. “He’s what anybody would want their kid to be like.”

Snyder said that other young people who are interested in mission work should not let anything stop them.

“No project is too big. I’m 17 years old and I organized the whole Haiti trip and we raised a little over $10,000,” he said. “At first I thought this was going to be impossible, but if you put your mind to it and people see your vision…they’ll want to get involved.

“Nothing is impossible if you have a vision to help others.”

Now as part of his senior project at DHS, Snyder is making a documentary to show the people and schools who supported his efforts in Haiti how much good the money is doing. The title of the documentary is “Hope 4 Haiti.”

“The purpose of this documentary is to show people the difference that we made in Haiti by digging the well,” Snyder said. “In addition, I am going to show the school that I went to while in Haiti and explain how I am sponsoring a lunch program for the entire year and how it is affecting the children.”

Snyder is the son of Julie and Johnny Snyder of Destrehan. After graduation, Snyder plans to attend Louisiana State University and major in business.

“I will use that degree to help me in mission work and organizing mission trips,” he said.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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Handyman Crew use skills to help community
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