Having a lasting impact

Students see the direct impact of their service while helping on spring break trips



Madison College students and staff attending an alternative break service trip to the Florida panhandle gather for a photograph on the beach during a break in their work activities.

Joseph Craker, Sports Editor

While spring break memories fade quickly for most, some students as well as staff at Madison College have memories that will leave a lasting impact.

Over the past decade, volunteers from Madison College have been offering up their annual time away from class to help those in need.  This year was no exception. 

Three groups provided hurricane relief aid in Panama City, Florida, low-scale farming assistance in Perryville, Arkansas, and local reinforcement to different causes and charities during the week-long break.

First time alternative spring breaker Jinli Shen was a member of the team that traveled to Panama City to support the Hurricane Michael relief efforts.

“We cut down damaged trees and cleaned up a lot of garbage from the storm,” said Shen.

While hurricanes might make headlines for a couple of weeks all the way up here in Wisconsin, the damage that they do is life changing for the people that are affected.

“I remember a lady named Janie,” recalled Shen.  “She was 92 years old, and had to move from the area (due to the hurricane). She was in tears after we finished all the work, and hugged each of us.  I was so moved.”

Although serving others is without a doubt fulfilling in itself, it can also be a great way to develop real-world skills and connections. ESL Instructor Sara Finesilver served as a co-advisor for the service ventures around the Madison area, and was pleased with how students developed over the week.

“It was wonderful to see the learners experience different service learning opportunities across many local needs areas,” said Finesilver. 

“The group did a phenomenal job of growing together as a team, but as a faculty member the most remarkable thing I noticed within our group was how the participants exponentially grew in their development of the Core Workforce Skills, like teamwork and communication, throughout the week.”

Liberal Arts Transfer Elisé Gnammi was amongst the students that contributed time to local non-profits this year, and had no regrets about the decision.

“My spring break was incredible,” said Gnammi.  “We planned and prepared a meal for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, sorted and delivered donations for the Madison Reading Project, and cleaned up Warner Park.  The volunteer center provided everything we needed.”

In fact, Gnammi is already looking forward to the next opportunity to play a role in serving the community.

“I am pretty sure that I will be the first student to register next year,” Gnammi added.