For David Bartz, his work at Lifetouch Portrait Studios is about to get a lot more personal.
Bartz, a Holts Summit man who works for the photography studio as a church consultant, is leaving today for the Dominican Republic to help complete a schoolhouse as part of the Lifetouch Memory Mission, a domestic and overseas philanthropy program.
"This is the first trip I've been on, and I'm excited to go over," he said. "It's a small community up in the hills called Costanza. The children over there don't really have much of anything, they've just got a huge spirit and are awesome people."
The program started in 2000 and has sent teams of volunteer workers to projects both domestic and foreign, ranging from building bridges for Navajo communities to rebuilding towns in war-torn Kosovo.
This is the second year in a row Lifetouch has sent a team to Costanza, following last year's efforts to build a school. Bartz will be one of 45 volunteers who finish the building by adding a second story.
Bartz, who works for the company as a liaison to churches in the area, consulting them on pictorial directories the firm provides, said he got the idea to volunteer from his oldest son, a pastor, who spent time doing missions in Africa with his wife.
"They have really been touched by the things they ran into and the ways they can help. He said areas in third world countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic were in such desperate need, and when I found out this was going to be (there), I thought "sure, I could help.'"