Everyone loves the idea of helping those in dire situations. Unfortunately, such an idea is usually snuffed out by the prospect of ‘little old me’ not being able to have an effect on the situation. Alternative Break Service Trips are here to make this idea a reality.
Over the past decade, Madison College students have been offering up their time away from school to embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to help those in need. In recent years students have gone to Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, as well as much of the Midwest and East Coast. This spring is no different. Madison College will be sending students to two destination locations as well as providing an opportunity to serve local Madison area communities.
As a participant of last year’s Alternative Spring Break Trip, Aunton Terry has meaningful and moving memories that will be with him for his entire life. Terry travelled to Galveston, Texas last spring to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, and fondly looks back on those memories. “The most amazing part of the trip was helping the families. They were so grateful to see that we came all the way from Madison to help them,” says Terry.
Students will get much more than memories out of the experience, however. Brianna Stapleton Welch, Student Life and Volunteer Center advisor at Madison College, specifies that it is no ordinary volunteer opportunity.
“It is fun to volunteer for a couple of hours during a weekend, but these trips are beneficial to students because they are far more immersive. Students will develop real connections to their service, and leave with a greater understanding of community,” said Stapleton Welch.
Terry agrees, and places his focus on the more humbling aspect of the trip. “I think meeting people that lost almost everything they owned gave me a greater sense of appreciation for what I have. Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it until we see someone less fortunate,” says Terry.
This year, students that sign up for the trip can head south to either Florida or Arkansas. One group of 18 students will be going to Panama City Beach to help with Hurricane Michael relief efforts. They will be doing everything from prepping homes for reconstruction to helping kids in after-school programs. A popular spring break destination for other reasons, Panama City Beach will be an interesting locale for a group where the focus is on volunteering and service.
Another group of 11 students will head to Perryville, Arkansas to help low-scale farmers improve the viability of their farms through Heifer International. Naturally, this effort increases the availability of nutritious, locally and sustainably grown food. The goal of Heifer International is to increase the average income of participating farmers by at least 30 percent.
One final group will be staying in the Madison area, helping out local causes during the Spring Break week. The group will meet at Truax every morning, do some service work, and head back to Truax at the end of the day.
“This is a good option for people with kids or those who need to work at night. It has no overnight commitment, and is a bit more laid-back,” says Stapleton Welch.
The application deadline for the 2019 Alternative Spring Break service trips is due February 1. After, groups will be brought together before departure for a briefing.
“You will really get to know your fellow students through the service experience. There will be orientation and team-building before the trips so that everyone can build connections,” says Stapleton Welch.
These once in a lifetime opportunities will fill up quickly, so students are advised to apply as soon as possible.