More than 40 Springfield College students once again 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. The College's Humanics in Action Program gives students an opportunity all year-long to take part in community outreach programs.
New to this year's trips, a group of participants focused on youth engagement and worked at the YMCA in Colombia, South America. Capitalizing on the College’s historical partnership with the YMCA, participants focused on capacity building with the YMCA while also providing service to other underserved populations including students at the YMCA’s school and camp. Students had the opportunity to bring the Springfield College mission of leadership in service to others into action while learning about a new culture. Students stayed at a local hotel in Bogotá and experienced the city as they worked directly with the YMCA and the community they serve.
For the fourth 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, participants traveled to Salem County, New Jersey, and spent five days working on a Collegiate Challenge build project and assisted with the renovation and 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 were housed within the community and dined 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 had 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 Pensacola, Fla., students focused on environmental sustainability. This program provided participants with not only a chance to experience part of the country they may not be familiar with, but to work directly on projects related to the environment and sustainable development. The group partnered with Community Collaborations Incorporated and was focused on beach and habitat restoration in the Florida panhandle.
Throughout the week the groups were blogging about their experiences as well as hosting Snapchat Takeovers. Follow along with their adventures.