Alternative spring breaks put focus on service

Jessica White

While some students return home or vacation in exotic places during spring break, others spend the week serving communities throughout the world.

Several of these opportunities come from Kent State’s annual “Spring Service Trip.”

Since spring break in 2006, Kent State has worked with Hurricane Katrina relief groups in Mississippi. On the trips, students spend the week clearing remaining debris and repairing damage.

But because there is no longer a great need for relief in Mississippi, the groups are moving on to other projects. So Kent State is offering four new service trips this spring break.

The destinations include:

• Buffalo, N.Y.

Students will stay on a Native American reservation and work with Habitat for Humanity and People United for

Sustainable Housing.

• Appalachia, W.Va.

Students will talk with the people and learn about the region. The people of Appalachia are often labeled as impoverished and uncivilized, and students will work to break those stereotypes, as well as help with small construction projects as needed.

• Washington D.C.

Students will stay and work in the country’s largest federally funded homeless shelter. They will also volunteer at a woman’s center and an HIV/AIDS

care facility.

• Columbiana County, Ohio

Students will stay at the Kent State Salem Campus and will volunteer with local agencies on projects such as building maintenance or tutoring.

The out-of-state trips each cost between $220 and $320, while the Columbiana County trip

costs about $50.

Gary Padak, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, who helped plan the trips, said he’s excited for everyone involved.

“It’s important to have learning experiences outside the walls of this campus,” he said. “I think each trip is a great opportunity

for growth.”

Senior advertising major Nathan Noll agreed. Noll is a group leader for the Appalachia trip and said he can’t wait to interact with people in the region.

“Working with them will be a whirlwind of emotion, but I’m not nervous at all,” he said. “I love meeting new people.”

Several students from the Dive will have the opportunity to meet new people while making a difference as well. Hudson Community Chapel is organizing a spring break trip to Haiti.

Dive intern Meredith Severns said the group is going to stay in one of many “tent communities” and do light medical, construction and missionary work.

“Several nurses are coming with us and will set up medical stations,” she said. “We also want to talk with the people and share the word of Jesus and God.”

Severns said she’s excited, but nervous, too.

“It will definitely be challenging,” she said, “but I want to bring them hope.”

Contact news correspondent Jessica White at [email protected].