"Oh the Places You'll Go…" on Spring Break Service Trips

By Victoria Clarizio
Staff Writer

For many college students, Spring Break means fun in the sun and lying on a beach without a care in the world. Last year for many Marywood students, Spring Break was an opportunity to help the less fortunate while traveling to some amazing places.  How about spending Spring Break in Colorado, Mexico, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or even right here in Scranton?

“People brag about spending spring break in Cancun or Miami, I brag about spending my spring break in Kentucky,” said Chuck Fisher, peer facilitator of the US/Mexico border IMMERSION experience. “Given the choice to spring break in the ‘usual places’ I would take Appalachia any day and am grateful that Campus Ministry has given me this opportunity,” he said.

No matter what area of service you’re interested in, there is a service trip experience that is perfect for you.  There are seven different trips, each with a different focus and mission.

Here is a brief description of each, along with links for more information on each trip.

Alternative Break in Scranton

February 27–March 6

In its third year, the Alternative Break in Scranton program offers an eye-opening, week-long experience of service right here in our own local community. Volunteers assist families and individuals who are served by local agencies with much-needed home upkeep and minor repair. In addition, volunteers prep, serve and join in meals at shelters and day programs for homeless persons. The goal of this program is two-fold: to give back to our local community and to raise awareness about the issues and concerns that impact our local community. This is a great opportunity for students who want to become more involved in service in our local community!

St. Vincent de Paul Center, Philadelphia, PA

Feb 27–March 4

The St. Vincent de Paul Center offers varied service and ministry experiences with the homeless, mentally challenged, youth and children, older adults, and the poor. Opportunities can range from socializing with mentally challenged adults in a day program or tutoring in a local after school program to rehabbing homes and serving in a soup kitchen or thrift shop. Volunteers will participate in a wide variety of service throughout the week. This program challenges participants to consider two important aspects of service: charity and justice.

Redeemer Ministry Corps, Huntington Valley, PA

Feb 28 – March 5

Redeemer Ministry Corps offers volunteers the experience of serving a variety of populations in an urban setting—children, senior citizens, homeless persons—during their week-long stay. Specific projects will be determined based on the interest of group members selected for this trip. A sampling of projects include serving at a Thrift Store, transitional housing program for homeless women and children, nursing and assisted living site for older adults, or a child care center. To learn more about this program, visit www.sistersholyredeemer.org

Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer Corp, Pittsburgh, PA

Feb 27 – March 6

During this one week experience in western PA, volunteers will work closely with children, at-risk youth, or senior citizens.  Specific projects will be determined based on the interest of group members selected for this trip. Opportunities for both hands-on and behind-the-scenes service projects provide well-rounded experiences of what is involved with serving the urban poor. To learn more about this program, visit www.changeaheartvolunteers.org

Habitat for Humanity of San Luis Valley, CO

Feb 27-March 6

The San Luis Valley is a culturally rich yet economically impoverished region of southern Colorado between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, whose major industry is agriculture. Volunteers put their faith in action by helping with the construction of adobe homes as part of Habitat’s Mission to eliminate sub-standard housing around the globe. This trip also will include a visit to and opportunity for an evening of service with La Puente Home, which outreaches to homeless and migrant populations in the region. To learn more about both programs, visit their websites at www.habitatcolorado.org/SanLuisValley and www.lapuente.net.

Workfest 2010, Christian Appalachian Project, KY

Feb 27-March 6

WorkFest brings together college students from a variety of schools to participate in home repair projects in some of the poorest regions of rural Kentucky. Workdays are balanced with evening educational and cultural programs, as well as prayer and group reflection. Workfest provides a quality experience in which volunteers learn about the region while making an impact on the lives of Eastern Kentucky families. To learn more about this program, visit www.christianapp.org

US/Mexico Border IMMERSION Experience

Feb 27 – March 6

In partnership with Global Exchange, this one week immersion/education experience will raise awareness and educate participants about the many-layered and complex justice issues surrounding the US/Mexico border region.  Through meaningful exchanges with people who form the political, economic, social, and cultural fabric of the region, participants will come away with an informed and enriched understanding of the hopes, accomplishments, and struggles of people from diverse backgrounds. This trip will not include hands-on service opportunities; instead, participants will engage in this awareness-raising experience and, in turn, come back to Marywood’s campus prepared to share what they’ve learned with others. Participants will create a plan for an awareness-raising campaign on campus and implement that plan upon their return. To learn more about this program and see a sample itinerary, visit www.globalexchange.org/tours.

All of the students that have participated in these Spring Break service trips in the past have nothing but good things to say about their experiences.  Junior Carly Byrne was a participant of the Alternate Break in Scranton last year and will be co-facilitating the trip this coming Spring.  She sums up perfectly what students experience through these service opportunities by saying, “The ABIS [Alternate Break in Scranton] was an amazing and humbling experience where you get to connect with people in the community on a new level and you are able to learn something about them and about yourself.”  She gave lofty expectations for the trip by simply adding: “Best trip ever!”  Sophomore Leanne Kunkel thought the best of her trip to Kentucky was, “having that feeling of helping people and knowing that I was actually doing something to help them.” Take a hint from Chuck, Carly, Leanne and the other students who have participated in these service trips and don’t miss out on a life changing experience.

Applications for Spring Break trips are due November 13th and the first informational meeting will be held on November 22nd.