Several SVSU students chose to spend part of their winter break on alternative breaks, dedicating their time to service in communities across the U.S.
Over the break, students participated in volunteer work in Georgia, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, Louisiana, New York and Indiana. Projects addressed Native American Cultural Preservation, mental health, LGBT+, elder care, the environment, poverty and Habitat for Humanity.
Participating students worked hands-on with community members and learned about issues within the problems their breaks addressed.
Sabrina Bellante, an exercise science senior, led the Habitat for Humanity break in Asheville, North Carolina. She said the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity focuses on affordable housing and teaching people skills to maintain their homes.
Bellante said she was able to meet a family whose house they worked on. She said the family applied for a habitat three times.
“One of the most inspiring things I took away from my break is to never give up and to keep looking at the positives in life,” she said. “If you keep trying, you will succeed.”
Students who participated in the trip focusing on LGBT+ inclusion on campuses and communities traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, and worked with Campus Pride.
Nora Lipetzky, a master of public administration student and student site leader for the trip, said students on the trip created promotional videos, wrote thank you notes, met with corporate business executives and reached out to previous donors.
“The goal of our break was to learn more about how to become better allies for those who are LGBT+, how we can advocate for more expansive resources on SVSU’s campus as well as within the Great Lakes Bay region and how to start important and integral conversations on several intersectional topics,” Lipetzky said. I
n Niagara Falls, New York, students embarked on service with the theme “Exploring the Common Ground of Poverty, Homelessness and Mental Illness.”
Sarah Spagnuolo, an occupational therapy sophomore, said the trip’s mission was for students to become aware of what barriers stand in the way of people’s financial and mental recovery, as well as learn to empathize and be able to advocate for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness in all communities.
“We worked with (Community Missions) throughout the week, but everyday entailed working with new people and provided opportunities to seek more knowledge about the topic of our break,” Spagnuolo said. “It was a very rewarding and eye-opening experience being able to encounter those experiencing homelessness and being educated through the work we took part in.”
Students will embark on another set of alternative breaks over spring break. Topics include empowering marginalized communities, HIV/ Aids and youth, supporting women in recovery, literacy and people with special needs and disabilities. Students will also have the option to go on a Habitat for Humanity trip.