Sixteen USC football players returned last week from a trip to Haiti to build four houses for victims who were devastated by the effects of the 2010 earthquake.
Les Barkley, quarterback Matt Barkley’s father, organized the trip and had been to Haiti several times before. As a volunteer at Hope Force International, a non-profit Christian-based organization that specializes in quick-strike disaster relief, Les Barkley first went to Haiti in 2010 when he led a team of doctors, medics and trauma nurses down to offer relief.
The Barkley family has a tradition of taking mission trips. But with Matt Barkley’s tight schedule, between summer school and football training, they found only a one-week window.
Les Barkley suggested going to Haiti, which still faces the effects of the earthquake.
Matt loved the idea, but had a question for his dad.
“‘Would it be OK if a couple of teammates came with us?’” Les Barkley said his son asked.
The roster for the trip included captains and senior leaders safety T.J. McDonald, Matt Barkley, center Khaled Holmes, defensive end Devon Kennard and junior punter Kyle Negrete.
In Haiti, the team worked to build four homes for families in need, participate in food distribution in outlying communities and transport and distribute supplies and necessities to local schools and orphanages.
Cyrus Hobbi, an offensive lineman, said that he gained a new perspective through his experience in Haiti.
“It was really just a humbling experience,” Hobbi said. “It was weird coming back [to the] A.C. and a nice comfy bed to sleep in.”
Les Barkley credits the Trojan Family with helping the team raise money for the team to take the trip.
“Virtually all of the funds came through the Trojan Family,” Les Barkley said.
Les Barkley said to the USC Athletics website helped generate word of mouth for the cause.
“When Trojan alumni heard what their team was doing, I got calls saying ‘Hey can I help? How can I support this effort?’” Les Barkley said.
Kennard said the trip helped develop stronger relationships between the players.
“We grew together because we had to go out there and work,” Kennard said. “Doing it as a team, made it all the better.”