Alternative Spring Break Trips Making a Difference Throughout the Globe

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At center, Springfield College Director of the Center for Service and Leadership Charlene Elvers once again leads the alternative spring break program.

 

More than 40 Springfield College students used their spring break to volunteer with community outreach programs throughout the globe as part of the student volunteers alternative spring break program on the campus. Alternative spring break is part of a year-round mission at Springfield College to give back to the local community and to communities throughout the world. 

“The alternative spring break program continues to flourish at the College because of the dedication of our students wanting to give back, both in our local community and nationally as well,” said Director of the Center for Service and Leadership Charlene Elvers.  “Students work extremely hard to organize and plan these trips. They host fundraisers throughout the academic year to assist with travel costs. I am very proud to be a part of this program.”

The mission of giving back to the community always remains a constant at Springfield College and Elvers continuously emphasizes to students that in order to be eligible for alternative spring break trips, they have to show a focus and commitment to local community engagement as well.

New to this year's trips, a group of participants focused on capacity building with the YMCA while also providing service to other underserved populations, had the opportunity to bring the Springfield College mission of leadership in service to others into action while learning about a new culture in Port au Prince, Haiti.
 

While in Haiti, a delegation led by President Mary-Beth Cooper visited with Mitch Albom's "Have Faith Haiti Mission." While Mr. Albom was on Campus during Homecoming 2017 for the Arts and Humanities Lecture ( made possible through the generosity of Carlton '63 and Lucy Sedgeley) the Springfield College Student Homecoming Staff built 50 stuffed animals each with a Springfield College t-shirt and message to Albom's' kids in Haiti. The delegation personally delivered the stuffed pals. 

For the third straight year, a group of students provided service within our own community of Springfield, while educating participants on ways to give back to the community. This year's focus was to become more aware of the homeless and refugee population and how the College can provide aid through working with different organizations through the city of Springfield. Each day the group partnered with a different agency in a different Springfield neighborhood in an effort to understand first-hand the challenges faced by the community and opportunities to have an impact on the lives of so many.

Working with Habitat for Humanity in Georgetown, Del., participants spent five days working on a Collegiate Challenge build project and assisted with the construction of affordable housing options for low-income families. This project is unique in that the build is completed solely by college students from around the nation. Participants will be housed within the community and will dine in fellowship with the community. At the end of the build, a family who has contributed “sweat equity” will be afforded the opportunity for home ownership – a dream of many. College students will get the chance to learn about the barriers to home ownership and how this one seemingly small change can have a ripple effect for a family, a community, and a nation.

In Houston, Texas, a group was afforded with opportunities to challenge perspectives and participate in efforts to humanize, work with, and learn more from those affected by natural disasters. The group partnered not only with local organizations, but with our Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS) campus in Houston.

“There is always a lot of anticipation each year and to have the opportunity to watch our students acting so selflessly is so enjoyable to watch,” said Elvers, who led the group to Haiti. “This week of service is just one example of the community engagement efforts Springfield College remains committed to, but giving back truly does take place year-round on the campus.” 

Early in the fall semester each year, approximately 2,000 Springfield College students, faculty, staff, and alumni take part in the annual Humanics in Action Day, a day of community service throughout the city of Springfield. College work groups fulfill more than 100 projects on this day, including services for schools, churches, senior citizen facilities, child care centers, community organizations, city agencies, and neighborhoods. Educational projects for school children exist, including students reading to youngsters at the Brookings School.  The majority of the volunteers participated in many indoor and outdoor painting projects, clean-up/fix-up projects, landscaping, and a host of other indoor and outdoor services.