Centre students, faculty and staff recently returned to campus from spring break—and three groups in particular came back with not only fun memories, but with a week of volunteer experience through Alternative Spring Break (ASB).
ASB is a nationwide effort to spend spring break doing community service and helping those in need, and it has been successful at Centre for several years. This year, Centre ASB participants traveled to one of three places: Sky Meadows National Park in Virginia; Destin, Fla.; or Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Emily Donlon ’14, public relations chair of Centre Action Reaches Everyone (C.A.R.E), worked in Tuscaloosa, along with 18 other Centre students and staff, to aid Community Collaborations International in disaster relief.
“April 27 will be the one-year anniversary for the tornadoes that devastated the Tuscaloosa area and other parts of Alabama,” Donlon says. “We worked with home-grown service organizations like Project Blessings and the Tracy Dent Foundation, and we helped wherever we could—doing anything from painting, clearing debris and organizing a warehouse.”
While Donlon has been involved with ASB in the past, others—like Allie Barden ’12, who helped run the trip in Destin—had never been on ASB until this year.
“I became involved with ASB after attending the first meeting this fall. I knew I couldn’t pay for the whole trip, but I still wanted to participate, so I offered to possibly help with planning or running the third trip,” Barden says. “I was so excited because I had heard of other trips before and always wanted to go on ASB, but it had never worked out—and now I was helping lead one of the trips!”
Each of the three groups found themselves doing a variety of projects throughout the week.
“One day, we were beautifying a park. The other three days, we were bagging fossilized oysters and transporting them to their new homes in the bay to rebuild oyster reefs’ natural habitats,” Barden says. “We even got to ride out on a boat and dump the bags, and in five to ten years that will be a brand new oyster reef habitat with many different types of species living off of those beds we built.”
“We did a variety of different things, from painting to debris removal to helping organize and go through donations at a warehouse,” says Academic Affairs Coordinator Sallie Bright, who went on the trip to Tuscaloosa.
The groups accomplished a lot in the week they were on location—and at times, they did the most help by simply being there for those in need.
“Something that I’ve kept with me throughout the years is the importance of people’s stories. We all have them, but sometimes it is more important to listen to the stories of others,” Donlon says. “We had the opportunity to peer into the lives of a variety of people. We met people who had lost everything they owned, but we also met people who took the initiative to help the people around them.”
Bright was impressed by how hard the students worked during ASB.
“The students were just wonderful. They attacked the projects and finished them faster than anyone thought they would,” she says. “There was plenty of fun after the job was done, but while they were working, there was no fooling around or goofing off. It was a great experience.”
Those who participated in this year’s ASB had a great time.
“Even though the work was extremely labor intensive, I loved it, probably mostly because of the people I went with,” Barden says. “I met and bonded with people I never would have had a chance to get to know so well otherwise, and we became close in a very short time while doing some good for our Earth and others.”