Centre students and staff use spring break to give back

Posted by Centre News in Community Service, Community-Based Learning, News 01 Apr 2015

spring break studentsSpring break is often a week to kick back and relax, to unwind from the stresses that college life can often bring. While some Centre College students use the week away from academics to unwind, others choose to go on Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

ASB, an initiative created by Centre Action Reaches Everyone (CARE) and the Office of Community Service, provides students with the opportunity to spend their break serving a community in need.students in Chicago

The 31 students who participated in ASB this year could serve in either Chicago or West Virginia.

“For me, ASB seemed like a great opportunity to get off campus for a week and refocus on how I can better serve my community and those around me,” said Lauren Samuelson ’16, who spent the week in Chicago.

“We have students from all different corners of campus working and living together with one common goal,” Samuelson continued. “It’s been great seeing our sense of community grow as we learn as individuals and as a team.”

The 21 students who chose to serve in Chicago worked with and traveled to a number of different nonprofit organizations and communities in the city.

“The Chicago trip was meant to be, in some ways, like a social justice retreat,” said Matthew Klooster, the director of community service and the Bonner program. “It’s also a site that has quite a bit of service and human contact associated with it.

“We take a lot of time in the evenings to reflect on things we’ve observed and to talk about social justice problems,” he continued.

Students who chose to go to West Virginia for ASB were working with an organization called Big Creek People In Action, an organization that started as a grassroots initiative to address the needs of a community that had fallen into poverty as a result of lack of jobs.

“It’s a lot of Habitat for Humanity type of work,” Klooster explained. “We provide a modest financial contribution to the organization through materials that they need, and we go out with skilled laborers to upgrade the living conditions of some people’s homes.”

Because over 85 percent of Centre students volunteer on a regular basis, Klooster was not surprised to see how hard his students worked and how much they dove in to whatever job was asked of them.

“As an administrator and educator, it’s been really gratifying and heartwarming to see the students embrace the opportunity that is ASB,” he said. “It’s given me extraordinary pride to see how truly engaged our students are.

“I really, quite frankly, couldn’t be happier with the students and how they’ve performed in this capacity.”

Past ASB service locations include Charleston, S.C., to work at Habitat for Humanity; Delaplane, Va., to work for the American Hiking Society; and Tuscaloosa, Ala., to work with Community Collaborations International in disaster relief.

Learn more about service opportunities at Centre.

Learn more about C.A.R.E.

by Anne Evans