SMU students use spring break as time to serve others

This spring break, many SMU students, faculty, and staff are using their time off to help others.

Alternate Spring Break

By Milan Khatami
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) – This spring break, many SMU students, faculty, and staff are taking advantage of their time off to serve as volunteers in communities across the country and abroad.

Alternate Spring Break“You can always spend spring break at the beach later in life, but SMU Alternative Breaks is something that you only have four years to experience,” said Gloria Yi, the program’s student director. “Alternative Breaks taught me how to be an active citizen, putting others before myself and living my life in a way that is focused on my community.”

“Alternative Breaks is all about making an impact, while providing a transformative experience for participants,” she said.

Activities for the March 6-12 break include:

City on a Hill: Living, Working, and Sharing in an Intentional Community

Participants will volunteer at a dynamic farming, gardening, and handcrafting intentional community in Kimberton, Pa., that includes adults with developmental disabilities. SMU community members are returning for the third year and will engage in outdoor farming tasks, work in the greenhouses, help with weaving and crafting activities, and share evening meals with villagers and co-workers.

Empowering Residents through Food

This group will serve with a large, established community food bank in Atlanta that supports the reduction of hunger in the city.  Participants will work in the product rescue center, the grocery floor, and the mobile pantry.  The group will also have the opportunity to serve in the organization’s community gardens, which provide neighborhoods with fresh vegetables, beautiful land, and a place to meet and work towards positive goals.

The Road to Opportunity: Providing Support for At-Risk Youth

Alternative Breaks will travel to Cartago, Costa Rica to work with Pueblito, a non-governmental and non-profit organization located on a beautiful field surrounded by the mountains overseeing the Irazú volcano. The organization offers programs and services for children, teens, and women in crisis due to sexual harassment and domestic violence.  The group will be working on educational activities with the children, mostly English teaching and tutoring, and potentially a small construction project. Students interested must apply and have a passport that is valid until at least Oct.1, 2016.

Caring for Kids as Teachers and as Caretakers

This team will be volunteering in St. Louis at Crisis Nursery Kids, which provides temporary care for young children in order to help prevent child abuse and neglect. The group will serve by giving the children individual attention from rocking and playing to feeding and dressing at the 24-hour shelters.

Beauty Through the Eye of the Storm: Rebuilding Homes and Lives

Alternative Breaks, in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, returns to New Orleans to serve with a disaster recovery organization called the St. Bernard Project.  This non-profit organization engages youth in the recovery and rebirth of the New Orleans area through rebuilding distressed and foreclosed homes to stabilize neighborhoods.

Empowering Students through an Education in Exploration

This team will work with the Roots and Wings Community School in Taos, New Mexico. The school is very understaffed, so volunteers are crucial to creating a positive classroom experience. Previous SMU Alternative Breakers working with this organization served by tutoring, teaching mini-lessons in the classrooms, painting and helping with outdoor landscaping and remodeling. SMU students are able to serve as role models for younger children as well as to inspire and influence the lives of many children.

Food as Medicine: Providing Hope and Healing to a Forgotten Community

Alternative Breaks will be partnering in New York City 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 4,600 meals.

Saving the Sea: Sea Turtle Habitat Restoration

In collaboration with SMU Outdoor Adventures, this group will be working to maintain and restore the beach environment in South Padre Island that many sea turtles call home.  Projects will likely include beach clean up, habitat restoration, and other environmental projects.  PLEASE NOTE:  Participants will be camping outdoors in tents for the majority of this trip.  While you do not need to be an experienced camper to apply, full consideration should be given to the camping-nature of this trip