Giving back instead of kicking back: Alternative Spring Break at Centre
Many Centre College students are counting down the days until they can load up in a car and head for open water, where they can spend a much-needed week soaking up sun and relaxing during spring break. However, a small group of students will be spending their break a little differently, thanks to Alternative Spring Break (ASB).
ASB is an initiative created by CARE (Centre Action Reaches Everyone) and the Office of Community Service that allows students the opportunity to spend spring break serving a community in need.
Past trips include Charleston, S.C., to work at Habitat for Humanity (right); Delaplane, Va., to work for the American Hiking Society; and areas of Alabama and Florida in need of disaster relief from tornados and hurricanes.
“Time is one of our most precious assets, and there is no more selfless act than sharing your time in service to others,” says Director of Community Service and the Bonner Program (and Assistant Professor of Biology) Matt Klooster. “ASB, which offers students the chance to spend time helping others, is also an outstanding bonding experience and a great way to meet new friends with similar values and goals.”
CARE President Ricky Shear ’14 and his team coordinated advertising the service opportunities, collecting student payments, assessing applications and planning meetings and itineraries for this year’s trips.
“It’s important for students to participate in ASB for three reasons,” says Shear. “First, students get the rewarding and educational experience of spending a week in service to others. Second, they get an exciting opportunity to experience a part of the country that they may have never seen before. Third, they have an opportunity to get to know students, faculty, staff and other volunteers that they would not otherwise have had.”
Specific service sites vary by year; this spring, groups will be revisiting two sites that have been previously served, as well as one new service opportunity. One group will travel to McDowell County, W. Va, helping a coal-mining community experiencing severe poverty. A second will travel to Soddy Daisy, Tenn., an Appalachian community whose natural environment is one of its most precious resources; students will work on building the Cumberland Trail, a hiking trail that, once complete, will span the state of Tennessee from north to south, a distance of over 300 miles. (Students pictured at top worked on a similar project during ASB 2012 at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane, Va.)
The new service site is located in Chicago, Ill., at the Brother David Darst Center, where students will explore and address social justice issues, including poverty, homelessness, convict rehabilitation, immigration and access to education.
“I’m most excited about making new friends on ASB this year,” says Shear, “but constructing a hiking trail in the fresh air of the Tennessee wilderness is a close second.”
Learn more about community service at Centre.
By Mariel Smith