Nearly 100 SVSU students volunteered through Alternative Breaks (AB) from Dec. 16 to Dec. 22.
Students split into nine groups, which traveled to nine separate states and tackled various community issues.
Topics for this winter’s trips included community development, rural cultural sensitivity and animal rescue, poverty and structural racism and juvenile justice.
Lindsey Mead, the AB media recruitment chair and events coordinator, traveled to Seattle, Washington, where she worked with Lifelong, an organization that provides those with chronic illnesses nutritious groceries and meals.
“We helped package grocery bags based on dietary and cultural needs, we wrote ‘well wishes’ cards to place in the grocery bags for Life- long clients to brighten their day, we assisted the kitchen staff in prepping their meals for Lifelong clients in need and sent out letters for the non-profit encouraging those in the Seattle community to support the mission of Lifelong,” Mead said.
Spanish and political science sophomore Alina Devoogd worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia, South Carolina.
“On the trip, we spoke with the kids about college and acted as positive role models,” Devoogd said. “I learned that everyone has a different road they’re going down, and who are we to judge someone else’s path when it looks so different from our own.”
AB gives students like Mead and Devoogd the chance to have a direct impact on people’s lives, which can leave a lasting impression on both the volunteers and those they’re helping.
“I met the most amazing people,” Mead said. “One man in particular, who has suffered with AIDS since the 80s, reminded me that it is young people like me, volunteering the way we were that day, that can make the biggest change in the world around us.”
For Mead, AB is an opportunity not only to volunteer, but to experience new things.
“The non-profit organizations our AB pro- gram pairs with challenge students to think in a new way and get them passionate on a social justice issue affecting our society today that students may not have otherwise known about or considered in such depth,” Mead said. “Through service, we are changing the lives of other people and communities across the Unit- ed States and changing who we are, as AB participants, alongside it.”
Devoogd’s experience changed the way she views many aspects of her life and showed her the importance of new perspectives.
“My whole perspective on what success is has changed,” Devoogd said. “I’ve become more passionate about activism and educating those around me on social issues because I’ve found that people don’t always know. It’s important that we stop and look into someone else’s life and walk in their shoes.”
Reported from Taylor Stockton, Vanguard News Editor