Asheville - Mark Gibbs has spent his professional life dedicated to public service for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Gibbs, the Division 13 maintenance engineer covering Buncombe and counties to the north and east of Asheville, will be expanding his service to a third-world country over Easter weekend through the spring break where his children attend school.
Gibbs, along with his wife, Donna, and their three oldest children - 14-year-old twins Joshua and Jordan, plus 12-year-old Jacob - are embarking on a mission trip to Honduras to help improve the lives of others.
"Throughout my life, especially as I get older, I realize that life is not just about me," said Gibbs, who graduated from N.C. State in 1993 with a degree in civil engineering. "Anytime I get the opportunity to help someone, that gives me more satisfaction than anything I can buy.
"Whether it's helping my wife, my kids, people in my church or people overseas, the satisfaction is so fulfilling."
The Gibbs family is part of a group of about 20 people who will travel to Taulabe, Honduras, to enrich the day-to-day living conditions of its citizens.
The itinerary is packed. It includes a visit with three children that the Gibbs have been sponsoring through Compassion International.
"Plus, we'll be installing wood stoves in homes so families can cook their meals, and we'll be visiting schools too," Gibbs said. "We'll be interacting with the kids and we have soccer balls for them and candy too.
"I hear Dum-Dums are pretty popular."
This will not be Gibbs' first trip overseas to help those in need. But his boys will be getting on a airplane for the first time in their lives.
After he completed an engineering officer basic course through the Army and earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, Gibbs and his National Guard unit, which was based in North Wilkesboro, N.C, traveled to Ecuador to assist in the construction of schools.
He didn't quite know then how his life and career would help him evolve from an introvert to a person whose passion is helping others.
"When I came out of college my first thoughts were that I didn't want to work in a factory and I didn't want to work indoors," Gibbs said. "I think the evolution has been good for me. As I've learned, in this field, you have to be willing to work with people and go through some conflict resolution.
"We go about making folks happy within the guidelines and policies set by the department and explain to them when and what we do. Generally, 99 percent of the residents understand and about 95 percent of the time we can help them."
With the trip overseas, Gibbs is aiming to expand his horizon of assistance - a value borne early and developed during his 21 years with NCDOT.
"He is one of the hundreds of very dependable and capable people across our state that the travelling public depends on to be safe on an hour-to-hour basis on our interstates, highways and roads," said Division 13 Engineer Jay Swain. "If not for people like Mark, there would be all kinds of problems for travel across the state."
And children in Honduras would go without Dum-Dums and beloved soccer balls.