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Alternative Breaks: Lending a Helping Hand

“Alternative Breaks provide students with the opportunity to learn about a social issue and work toward making a change in the community.” — Paige Bartkowiak.

Alternative breakers in Tennessee, February 2017.Alternative breakers in Tennessee, February 2017.More than 40 Alma College students will spend their winter term recess volunteering across the country. Several will travel as far as North Carolina and Florida to serve others.

This round of alternative breaks will run from Feb. 25 through March 3. Focus areas include immigration and refugees, animal welfare, LGBTQ education and environmental stewardship.

Alma College ranks among the top 10 schools in the nation in the percentage of students who participate in alternative break service trips, according to Break Away, the national organization that supports the development of alternative break experiences that inspire lifelong active citizenship.

“Alternative Breaks provide students with the opportunity to learn about a social issue and work toward making a change in the community,” says program co-chair Paige Bartkowiak, a senior from Dexter. “This program has empowered me to find my passions for immigration issues and fighting against human trafficking.

Focus areas for alternative breaks include environmental stewardship.Focus areas for alternative breaks include environmental stewardship.“It also has connected me with fellow breakers and those living in the communities affected by an issue,” says Bartkowiak. “In talking with these people, I have been able to gain diverse perspectives on important social issues.”

According to program co-chair Annika Gurrola: “It’s awesome that so many students get the chance to participate in service trips like those offered by the Alternative Break Program.”

Muskego senior Joelle Fisher, a veteran alternative breaker, recommends “that everyone takes the opportunity to participate in an Alternative Break at least once during their college career.”

Alma College Alternative Breaks: Feb. 25-Mar. 3

Immigration and Refugees - Explore Michigan’s Response, Detroit (Feb. 25-Mar. 1)
Students may serve as tutors for immigrant elementary students and assist at a local food pantry while learning from, eating with and listening to immigrants and refugees from throughout the southwest Detroit community.

Animal Welfare - Mid Atlantic Border Collie Rescue, Chestertown, Md. (Feb. 25-Mar. 3)
With projects dependent on the weather, volunteers may install fence, clear brush, build raised beds, paint and clean kennels at Victory Farm.

LGBTQ-Campus Pride, Charlotte, N.C. (Feb. 25-Mar. 3)
This program will allow participants to better understand the “State of Higher Education for LGBTQ People” and help develop and strengthen resources for students across the nation.

Environmental Stewardship-Everglades & Biscayne National Parks, Fla. (Feb. 25-Mar. 3)
Volunteers may provide services such as removal of invasive species, beach clean-up and park maintenance at these national parks that were greatly affected by Hurricane Irma.

Story published on February 06, 2018