Alternative break goes to Houston

Adrienne Oliva, Editor in Chief

The Volunteer Center is sponsoring two alternative break trips this spring, including their first trip to Houston, Texas to aid with disaster relief, and a trip to Perryville, Arkansas that will focus on aiding hunger and poverty with sustainable farming.

“The new trip is to Houston, because of the flooding the past summer. That particular area is struggling and will continue to struggle for a long time,” explained Renee Alfano, Director of Student Life.

Many Madison College students were already looking for a way to help the hurricane survivors of Texas long before the alternative break trip was announced.

“When Hurricane Harvey happened, we had a lot of students call in about how they could help,” explained Alternative Breaks Coordinator, Mackenzie Fitzgerald.

In past years, there has often been an alternative break trip to help with Hurricane Katrina relief, as the hurricane is still affecting the residents of New Orleans to this day.

“Obviously the effects of Hurricane Katrina are still relevant, so Hurricane Harvey, which just happened in the last year, it’s going to be a lot more intense,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was inspired by the online news coverage of the hurricane and decided to join in on the Houston trip.

“I saw a man who lost his whole family, he just got in contact four days after the hurricane happened from his parents that were OK that were there. They all lost everything, so that really hit me hard, so that’s the reason I’m going on the Houston (trip).”

According to Alfano, the work that will be done on the Houston trip will be very physical, including things like, mold removal and tearing out drywall.

The trip to Perryville, Arkansas will focus on aiding hunger and poverty with sustainable farming, and though this is a trip that the Volunteer Center has ran before, Alfano thinks that the trip is more relevant than ever.
“With the work the Student Senate has done with regards to student hunger, we decided this would be a good trip to go on again,” Said Alfano.

Students who go on this trip will be able to help low income farmers while working on their farms.
Alfano believes that students have the opportunity to gain some valuable life skills and lessons, regardless of which trip they choose to go on.

“It’s an amazing experience for the students. The benefits usually have a lot to do with the learning that takes place through the service work. … You get to meet the family whose home you’re working on and get to hear their stories,” explained Alfano.

“These trips help communities in a time of need, and these two (trips) especially, give students a chance to practice skillsets for the workplace.”