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Alternative Spring Break seeking new members for upcoming trips

Patrick Fergus

Traveling to new places, experiencing new cultures, and giving back to the community are some of the most fulfilling undertakings in life. The Alternative Break club on campus is accomplishing each with its valuable trips and activities offered to Springfield College students. 

The club provides excursions for any students interested in important community service and getting involved in social justice issues, with each journey into troubled communities having a specific problem they are looking to address.

“The mission of the club really is to provide immersive service experiences that also address a social justice issue,” said Charlene Elvers, the club’s advisor.

A common service the club performs is going into a community and working on houses in order to provide homes for the homeless and families in need of affordable housing, as a part of Habitat for Humanity.

The members not only learn how to build new houses, but they also get personal and valuable interactions with the families that will later call their creations home. To hear the stories and struggles that people go through can be a very valuable moment for some students.

“We learn about the system of how housing works, and why it’s important to own a home….and more importantly, why it’s hard for some people to get to that point,” said Elvers

Each trip typically lasts about a week, an important set period of time for Elvers, as she wants these excursions to be an engaging experience for all the students that attend.

“I feel like that impact is when you immerse yourself in this….and you live it and you work it and you talk to people,” Elvers said. “You gain a perspective that you don’t always get when you just go out for an hour.”

This perspective has truly impacted students over the years, according to Elvers, with some joining the Peace Corps for years after taking part in the club. 

Past trips have ventured out to San Diego, a city with more than 8,000 homeless people. The club worked with organizations there to help the homeless get food, medicine, and eventually a place to live. 

Even COVID couldn’t prevent the club from making a difference, with the focus shifting to the local communities that were in need. 

The club worked tirelessly with local organizations to provide good food and helpful resources to people that were really struggling during the pandemic and were amazed with the amount of people that it affected.

“We worked with an organization one day… and we were there all day,” Elvers said. “All we did was package food into boxes and put them into people’s trucks, and all day long there was a steady group of people.”

Students will be excited to hear that the club has four riveting trips planned for spring break in the middle of March. This chock-full lineup includes a journey to a Native American reservation in South Dakota to learn more about the histories of the tribes that live there. There will also be a more environmentally focused trip, which is a growing concern as climate change has become a more distressing problem.

Described by students as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Elvers and the rest of the Alternative Break club urge any new members to take the plunge into a life-changing adventure. 

“In the end it’s us, we get changed, our hearts get changed, our minds get changed, and we have a renewed perspective,” Elvers said. “I’ve seen students, kind of, change their trajectory after having this experience.”

Applications for the upcoming trips are due by Nov. 4. For more information about joining the club and the application process, contact the Center for Service and Leadership.

Photo: Charlene Elvers 


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