“It was probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding weeks of my life.” Jessica Chu, SMU student
Fall Break (October 12-15, 2013)
For the first time, SMU will partner with an organization right here in Dallas, Texas, Genesis Women’s Shelter. We’ll be sorting and collecting donations at the Genesis Thrift Store as well as leading a “Fall Themed Activity” for the children at the shelter. The thrift store receives over 300 donations each day and raises close to $1,000,000 every year. In all, the store is crucial to fundraising for Genesis and gives the women and children an opportunity to get the belongings they need for free.
In Hartshorne, Oklahoma we’ll partner with Rebuilding Together Kiamichi Country to work on home repairs and improvements for low-income homeowners. Rebuilding Together strives to develop “A safe and healthy home for every person.”
For the first time, SMU will be serving with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We’ll be sorting and packing food. According to the bank, “There are over 675,000 Oklahomans at risk of hunger every day, including one in four children in the state. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributes enough food to feed more than 90,000 hungry Oklahomans each week through more than 1,000 community pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and schools in central and western Oklahoma.”
Youth Education and Community Development
In San Antonio, Texas we will be partnering with City Year. Tentatively, we’ll work to inspire struggling students as well as engage in many different kinds of service from preparing and serving food to people who are currently living without homes to working with adults with special needs. There may be opportunities to focus on community development as well. (City Year has many connections in San Antonio and we are still in the process of confirming the exact service we’ll be doing.)
In Bridgeport, Texas, Alternative Breaks will be working with the Center for Animal Research and Education (C.A.R.E.), a non-profit animal sanctuary that provides a safe, loving, and permanent home for exotic animals in need. Participants will be cleaning cages, doing yard work, and preparing for the organization's upcoming Fall Festival, while learning about animal rights.
Winter Break (December 19-23, 2013)
In Austin, Texas we’ll be working with Blackland Community Development Corporation, a non-profit that supports Austin residents who earn less than 60% of the median income for Austin. Participants will serve in the Blackland Neighborhood by washing windows, painting, cleaning up the community playground, as well as assisting community members tend to their local garden.
Winter Break (January 2014 - exact dates TBD)
At Risk Youth in Ecuador
Participants will travel to Quito, Ecuador to volunteer with UBECI, which is an organization focused on providing educational services, recreational opportunities and social support to at-risk youth and their families. Students will assist in educational programs for the street children and child laborers of Quito. Through their service, students will gain exposure and knowledge on issues of global poverty and lack of educational opportunities.
*In order to apply: Must have a passport that is valid until at least August 2014.
Spring Break (March 9-15, 2014)
Food Deserts: Providing an Oasis
In New York City, New York we’ll be partnering with God’s Love We Deliver to prepare and serve food to individuals living with serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, who are not able to provide quality meals for themselves as a result of their illnesses. Every day, God’s Love We Deliver prepares and delivers close to 4,6000 meals!
In Indianapolis, Indiana we work with a grassroots community farm located in a low-income semi-urban neighborhood called Global Peace Initiatives. The purpose of the farm is to raise red wiggler worms in order to cultivate high-quality soil and compost for urban agriculture. During our time at Global Peace Initiatives in 2013, we planted onions for harvest, mended hoop houses, sifted soil, and built an aquaponics system. A typical day consisted of extremely informational manual labor, unlike any other work you've done! The dynamic of the work combined with constant learning makes for a beneficial experience for both breakers and the Indianapolis community.
Education in a Rural Setting
In Taos, New Mexico we will work with Roots and Wings Community School. The school is very understaffed, so volunteers are crucial to creating a positive classroom experience. While at Roots and Wings over Spring Break 2013, SMU Breakers spent a majority of their time tutoring and teaching mini lessons in classrooms. They also repainted the school’s entry hallway and helped with outdoor landscaping and remodeling. SMU students are able to serve as role models for younger children as well as truly inspire and positively influence the lives of many children.
For the first time, we will be taking two trips to Taos, New Mexico. The second trip will be serving at Stray Hearts Animal Shelter, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Humane Society of Taos that provides humane care and rehabilitation for lost and abandoned animals, upholding their rights for such, protecting animals from abuse and neglect and exploitation, and placing them into responsible and loving homes. Participants will build and refurbish kennels, walk the animals, clean cages, and much more - all while learning about animal rights, population control, long-term positive management of animals.
Disaster Relief (in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs)
Even years after Hurricane Katrina, many homes have been left debilitated in New Orleans, Louisiana. On this trip, you will be working firsthand with those whose homes or lives were disrupted by the Hurricane and build homes for them.
Persons With Special Needs
In Kimberton, Pennsylvania we’ll be partnering with Camp Hill Kimberton to work alongside adults with special needs. Sometimes we’ll be working out on the farm and other times we might be assisting indoors with activities and workshops.
Participants will travel to Mexico City to serve with CIAM, an organization that provides shelters and rehabilitation programs to women that have been victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence. CIAM also provides educational programs in surrounding communities. Students will have the unique opportunity of engaging in a current, pressing social issue in an international context.
Civil Rights and Youth Development
In Selma, Alabama we’ll be focusing on civil rights through our work with Freedom Foundation. Although our schedule is not set yet, we plan to engage in many different kinds of service from tutoring to construction while immersing ourselves in the issue of civil rights.
In Memphis, Tennessee we’ll partner with Living Lands and Waters where we’ll spend time on the Mississippi River removing debris such as tires and appliances that are damaging the habitat of the surrounding wildlife.
In St. Louis, Missouri participants will be volunteering at Crisis Nursery Kids, which provides temporary care for young children in order to help prevent child abuse and neglect. We’ll serve by giving the children individual attention from rocking and playing to feeding and dressing at the 24-hour shelters.
For the first time, we’ll be partnering with the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri to sustain and improve water resources, while learning about watersheds and sustainability.