Alternative Break Experiences Create Active Citizens
Refurbishing Homes, Serving Meals, Interacting with Children Are Among This Year’s Alternative Break Service Opportunities
Standish senior Alyssa Walters has assisted with tornado relief efforts in Kansas, built cages for exotic animals in Florida, and packed locally produced food for hungry kids in Grand Rapids. She hopes to add another Alternative Break service experience in February.
“You get to meet so many people,” says Walters. “Doing service is so rewarding. Not only are you volunteering during Alternative Breaks but also you hope to take away something from your trip and bring it back to your local community. There is so much you can learn from these trips that you can apply in your home community.”
Alma College students sort food for Kids Food Basket during an October Alternative Break experience in Grand Rapids.
Ten Alternative Breaks will engage Alma College students in week-long service opportunities in January and February, ranging from building and refurbishing homes, interacting with terminally ill children, serving meals to the homeless, assisting local agencies in their work to fight poverty, and more.
Five Alternative Break trips are planned for Jan. 2-8, 2011, and five excursions are scheduled for Winter Break Feb. 26 through March 5.
“The goal is to create active citizens,” says Katherine Gagnon, Alma’s AmeriCorps*VISTA in the Center for Responsible Leadership. “These are intensive one-week trips in which students serve, learn about social issues, and then return to apply their enthusiasm for serving others in their local communities.”
Following the trips, the students will celebrate and reflect on their experiences. They will collect photographs and write on note cards their most powerful memories for posters that will be distributed on campus and in the Alma community.
Walters went to Greensburg, Kansas, as a sophomore to assist in efforts to sustainably rebuild a tornado-devastated community.
“The area was so desolate; the community was completely annihilated, trees uprooted, houses gone,” says Walters. “The people expressed their gratitude for us being there and donating our time.”
As a junior, she helped rebuild animal cages at a Florida exotic animal refuge that had been damaged by a hurricane. This fall, she sorted locally produced food for children in support of West Michigan Co-op and Kids Food Basket in the Grand Rapids area.
Four student teams participated in Alternative Break opportunities during Fall Break Oct. 21-24. In addition to preparing food in Grand Rapids, they served meals and assisted with clothing donations at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit, cooked meals for urban youth at the Ronald McDonald House and YouthVille in Detroit, and completed outdoor service and maintenance projects for YMCA Camp Timbers in West Branch.
• Disaster Relief (faith-based), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Austell, GA
Students will help provide flood relief to local families.
• Affordable Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Fairfield, AL
Participants will assist the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in new home construction. Manual labor may include dry walling, framing, roofing or anything that goes into building a home.
• Children's Health, Ronald McDonald House, Memphis, TN
Students will plan activities and entertain terminally ill children.
• Urban Poverty (faith-based), Louisville, KY
Participants will assist a variety of local agencies in their work to fight poverty.
• Hunger and Homelessness, Center for the Homeless, South Bend, IN
Students will join the Center in their mission to break the cycle of homelessness.
• Immigration & Border Issues (faith-based), Project Puente, El Paso, TX
Students will work with humanitarian issues on the border involving immigrants.
• Disabilities, United Cerebral Palsy, Nashville, TN
Participants will construct wheelchair ramps for individuals with disabilities.
• Education, Operation Breakthrough, Kansas City, MO
Students will assist in classroom and after-school programs.
• Rural Poverty, Once Upon a Time in Appalachia, Knoxville, TN
Participants will work with the Cherokee community in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains on trail maintenance and service projects.
• Affordable Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Lewisburg, WV
Students will assist the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in new home construction. Manual labor may include dry walling, framing, roofing or anything that goes into building a home.
Posted: Thu, December 2nd, 2010 at 10:20AM