Students Serve Others During Alternative Breaks
Alternative Breaks offer Alma College students opportunities to make a difference in peoples' lives through their contributions to disaster relief, affordable housing, food outreach and other social efforts.
“Students who participate in Alternative Breaks engage in direct community service outside of Alma College,” explains Sallie Scheide, assistant director of the Center for Responsible Leadership. “They introduce students to others they might not normally interact with.”
Alma students assist at a Habitat for Humanity home.
The College has created several service partnerships through the years, such as with the Ronald McDonald House and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which have helped grow the community service program from a single 15-student group in 2003 to now offering more than 10 different trips with around 100 student participants.
Multiple opportunities exist this year for Alma students. Four Alternative Break trips are planned for Jan. 1-7, 2012. Five excursions are scheduled for Winter Break Feb. 25 through March 3.
Caitlin Closs, a junior from Parker, Colorado, went on her first Alternative Break as a freshman, and now, as a junior, she is attending a break as a group leader.
“Seeing the opportunity that was available in a college setting was exciting,” she says. “The breaks give students the opportunity to connect with a lot of different people and to step outside their comfort zones.”
In addition to the funny moments and “inside-jokes” that the participants create within their groups, students primarily learn great leadership skills while on these trips, says Closs.
Grand Rapids junior Emma Post has done more than just participate in Alternative Breaks — she has helped to establish the Pine Ridge Reservation trip that will be offered in February.
“This trip was recommended by Emma, who has been to the site,” says Scheide.
Post first visited the reservation in South Dakota during a Spring Term class with Laura von Wallmenich, assistant professor of English. She was so heavily impacted that she helped make it an official Alternative Break location.
Applying an enthusiasm for serving others in their local communities is the greatest benefit of participation in Alma’s Alternative Break programs, says Closs.
“The trips give students an opportunity to become more aware of the community in Alma, and the communities around the world,” says Closs.
• Disaster Relief (faith-based), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Tuscaloosa, AL
Students will provide assistance following tornado damage.
• Affordable Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Punta Gorda, FL
Students will assist in constructing homes for economically disadvantaged families.
• Children’s Health, Ronald McDonald House, Memphis TN
Students will work with terminally ill children by planning and participating in activities with them.
• Hunger/Homelessness, The Pilgrimage, Washington, D.C.
Students will work with various agencies to bring aid to the hungry and homeless of the area.
• Nutrition/Food Outreach, Community Servings, Boston, MA
Participants will serve families living with chronic and critical diseases through this not-for-profit food and nutrition program.
• Accessibility, United Cerebral Palsy of Middle TN, Nashville, TN
Students will build wheelchair ramps to help people gain easier access to their homes.
• Urban Poverty (faith-based), Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY
Participants will work with various service agencies in this faith-based program.
• Native Americans, Re-member, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD
Students will assist with building and maintenance and learn about the Lakota people and their culture.
• Affordable Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Franklin, WV
Participants will help construct homes for disadvantaged families.
Posted: Sun, December 4th, 2011 at 8:21AM