Bob and Helen Smithwick are loyal sponsors to a child at Liberia Mission…so Bob prepping for camino_March29loyal, in fact, that they are making a 300-mile trek on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) beginning THIS Sunday, April 3rd, in an effort to raise money for the kids of Liberia Mission!  Why?  Find out in this brief Q&A we had with Bob last week.

What is your motivation for walking the Camino de Santiago?  

My wife and I enjoy hiking and after talking to several friends, who had positive experiences walking the Camino de Santiago, we decided to give it a shot for several reasons:

  • We will be taking ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
  • We aren’t getting any younger (both Helen and I are turning 70 this year), and we might not be able to walk for 30 straight days in the future. Hopefully we can handle the trek this year.
  • My walking the pilgrimage route will give me the time to reflect on all the blessings – family, the good life in Colorado, etc.- that I sometimes take for granted.
  • I also plan to practice “walking meditation” as we traverse the 1,000-year-old pilgrims’ route and visit the sacred sites on the way to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
  • Taking a break from the US presidential elections rhetoric sounds like a good idea also.

Why give to Liberia Mission?

Adding the fundraising for LMI seemed like a very positive addition to our effort. I feel that Franciscan Works does such great work in Liberia on a frugal budget that I should make an effort to help if I can. The young people that I met at Liberia Mission are generally conscientious and eager to learn and really deserve my long-term support.

What is your history with Liberia Mission?

I have been involved with Liberia Mission since 2011 when we sponsored Williamena Glay.  I was able to volunteer in Liberia for eight weeks in 2012 where I worked at the school and was really was impressed with the quality of the care and education we were offering to the young people there.  We had dedicated teachers and staff whose efforts under difficult circumstances amazed me. Saint Anthony of Padua School is the best school in the area by far.  I have also helped give fundraising talks at several of the local parishes in my Colorado diocese over the years.

What keeps you so involved with Liberia Mission?

After visiting LMI and receiving regular letters from Williamena, I feel confident in the good work that Franciscan Works is doing in Liberia and I want to support the efforts in any way that I can.  Hopefully I will be able to visit the Mission in a few years and watch Williamena graduate from the Booker Washington Institute (a vocational post-secondary school), where she is currently studying agriculture.  I think we are making a positive difference in the lives of young Liberians, and I want to continue to be an active part of that effort.

What do you want others to know yourself/this journey?

Helen and I are proud parents and grandparents who have been blessed in this life and want to give back on a local, national, and international level. Hopefully we can make a small, but positive difference in our world.


*Help us reach our goal of raising $5,000 and turn each footstep of Bob and Helen’s journey into hope for the kids at Liberia Mission!  Your donations or sponsorship will help provide faith formation and a quality education for children at Liberia Mission, where youth living in poverty are empowered to become leaders.  What better way to celebrate the Risen Lord this Easter Season than with a gift that lasts?! 

*Follow snippets of Bob and Helen’s journey on Facebook and Instagram!


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