Alternative Spring Break allows students to give back over break

Andrew Paisley, Campus Reporter

For the last 25 years, the Newman Catholic Center has offered Alternative Spring Break at Eastern, a set of mission trips designed for students to help out in different communities instead of going home for spring break. This year, the tentative dates for the mission trips are March 11 to March 17.

“The mission trips are planned to be service-learning experiences that offer not only fun, but (also) deepen … our commitment to others,” said Doris Nordin, coordinator of Alternative Spring Break. “We believe that through these kinds of programs, the students grow in their understanding of our world, in their personal skills of leadership, shaping our community and bringing goodness into our society.”

There are seven mission trips offered for students to go on through Alternative Spring Break.

Amber Salutric, a sophomore Spanish and communication disorders and sciences major, is leading a group to Mobile, Alabama.

“We will be going to the L’Arche Home, which is a community home for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Salutric said. “The home has an activity center where we will spend most of our time interacting with the different individuals and hearing their stories, as well as doing household chores and activities.”

Salutric said she has never been on a trip for Alternative Spring Break before, but she loves helping others and is very involved with the Newman Catholic Center.

Another trip being offered is one with Habitat for Humanity, which will go to Jackson, Miss. Students who go on this trip will work with individuals in the area to help provide them with affordable housing. This trip is a construction-based project, but it will also let students interact with families.

“This is my first year participating as a site leader for Alternative Spring Break,” said Bailey Mitchell, a junior Spanish and psychology major. “My group and I will be going to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, where we will be volunteering at a daycare.”

The daycare, Casa de los Angeles, which translates to “Home of Angels,” provides for over 100 children of single mothers in the city who otherwise would not be able to afford childcare. All of the children are under the age of five, so the home relies on volunteers from around the world to care for them.

“I am so excited to have a chance to spend my spring break serving somewhere I have never been before and (learn) about the community there, and (bring) what I learn back to Charleston,” Mitchell said. “I personally hope to gain leadership skills and learn about the culture in this region of Mexico, as I myself am studying Spanish and psychology and plan to work as a school psychologist in the future.”

Bailey Martin-Giacalone, a senior biological sciences major, will be site-leading her group to the Hubbard House in East St. Louis. The Hubbard House advocates on behalf of Catholic Urban Programs and provides a forum for discussing why there is poverty, why people continue to be poorer and why the system does not support the needs of the poor.

“I went on this trip with the Newman Center over Thanksgiving Break 2016,” said Martin-Giacalone. “One of my favorite things was getting to work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Volunteers renovated a school bus and installed a kitchenette in the back of the bus. We drove around the city and had the chance to cook breakfast and serve it to people.”

Others included in the Alternative Spring Break are the Christian Appalachian Project in Mount Vernon, Ky., a trip to Kansas City, Mo., to work in a head start daycare and a trip to the Big Oak Boys Ranch in Gadsden, Ala.

Applications for these trips can be picked up at the Newman Catholic Center. If students apply by Feb. 3, they will get $25 off of the total $200 cost of the trip, which covers all meals and living.

Otherwise, students can sign up by Feb. 17. Students do not have to be affiliated with the Newman Catholic Center to be a part of Alternative Spring Break.

Andrew Paisley can be reached at 581-2820 or at [email protected].