Alternative Spring Break
What is Alternative
Spring Break (ASB)? Alternative Spring break is a
week long service opportunity offered to Austin
College Students during the week of Spring break. A
group of approximately 40 students will travel to a
site anywhere within the United States, that is in
need of significant aid, including disaster relief.
NOVEMBER 18TH @6:00 PM in WCC 231
DECEMBER 2ND @ 6:00 PM in WCC 231
THURSDAY DECEMBER 4TH at 11:11 PM!!!
Spring Break 2013 was special, to say the very
least. Before the cars even left, this year had
become a perfect example of Murphy’s Law. Luckily,
everything that did go awry ended up making this
year’s trip special in the best ways possible.
After cramming our bags into 5 SUVs, 38
students, faculty, and staff members set off
for the journey to Joplin, Missouri.
Upon arriving at Sky Ranch, Cave Springs, the groups excitedly claimed their beds and got situated for the week ahead. The rest of the evening was spent preparing for the coming week and getting to know each other. Like most aspects of this trip, it was the impromptu game of Scattergories that got people out of their shells and willing to meet new friends. By the end of the night, it was hard to go to bed as everyone was too excited and much too talkative, a sign that it was going to be a great week!
Everyone awoke bright and early Monday morning, eager to start work. Unfortunately, Home Sweet Homes, was not prepared for the 38 eager students that had arrived and was unable to accommodate us. Luckily, the members of the Service Station Board were able to quickly come up with a new game plan, a fun and explorative day around Joplin. First, the whole group went to survey the area that had been hit the hardest by the F5 tornado. This allowed us to get an idea of just what the people of Joplin had suffered and how much work still needed to be done. Everyone was very humbled by the experience and even more eager to get to work the next day. After the tour, the groups divided up, and went to explore the city of Joplin, allowing them to get a better feel for the people and the city they would be helping.
With the beginning of day two came the promise of a full day’s work. Arriving at Home Sweet Homes, the group met Eric, the sole volunteer, behind much of the work the charity was doing. He explained how hard the past year had been. Later, after returning to camp, the group learned that Eric, despite all of the hard work he was doing, had refused to take a pay check since October of 2012. He wanted what little money the charity had to go straight the people that needed it the most. Eric provided a perfect example of what it means to be a volunteer. Dividing up into groups, we were more effective. Some of the students stayed at the warehouse, organizing supplies and the many donation items that had been received. The other two groups worked hard prepping and demoing to separate home sights. By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted, but ready for the rest of the week.
Days three proved to be the most challenging for the group. Unfortunately, the electrician was unable to get any work done for Home Sweet Homes over night, therefore leaving the ASBers without a work site. With a little patience and quick thinking, the Board members were able to secure three different work sites for the group to attend. One group went to the Big Cat Nature reserve and spent the day marking new trails and identifying plants for the park ranger. The second group worked at Art Feeds, a new startup that was working to provide art projects to children in schools. The third group went to the Salvation Army were they organized the donation warehouse and the thrift store. Despite the last minute changes, most of the students felt satisfied with their day’s work and many even felt that, by splitting up the group, we were able to have a greater effect on the larger Joplin community. In the evening, Ryan Britt, who was one of the sponsors for the trip, told the group about his work in Institutional Advancement, and how his division helps find funding for Alternative Spring Break. This year, most of the funds came from the Synod of the Sun and other Presbyterian congregations. The students were very interested to learn about how the college goes about financing service events.
The final two days proved to be the most successful. By Thursday, everyone was passionate about the work they were doing at their different sites and the energy of the group had changed. By the time Friday afternoon arrived, no one was eager to leave. Everyone wanted to make sure that the projects they had been working on had been completed with care. Meeting up at the Salvation Army to say our last goodbyes, everyone had a smile on their face. You could tell that, despite the many bumps we hit throughout the week, we were still able to do a lot of good for a community that truly needed it.