Spring Break brings alternative ideas

By on April 8, 2004

Quinnipiac organizations Alternative Spring Break Trip and Habitat for Humanity teamed up Wednesday to reminisce of the spring break they spent away from beaches, luxury hotels and tanning salons to serve others less fortunate than themselves.

As a continuation of their service projects, several students of the 65 volunteers involved in the Alternative Spring Break service programs gave presentations on their experiences and raised money for families in need by holding a “Shack-a-thon.”

The “Shack-a-thon,” collecting a minimum of $5 a group and with an attendance of more than 60 people, raised over $250 to benefit the building of a house in a foreign country by Habitat for Humanity International.

To comply with eligibility for receiving awards for their creativity, students were allowed to use only cardboard and duct tape to construct their houses.

Awards given included Most Creative, Most Structurally Sound, Most Beautiful, Most Ingenious Design, Most Money Raised and Most Spirited.

Gillian Gallagher, junior athletic training major and Habitat volunteer, said the event held several significances.

“The building of the cardboard houses was a fundraiser, competition and a learning experience,” Gallagher said.

According to Gallagher, the Alternative Spring Break Trip and Habitat for Humanity groups were not directly connected, but shared the same goals.

“All the groups were working for the same common goal: to help others,” Gallagher said .

Students involved in the Alternative Spring Break Trip service projects went to several cities and countries around the world including New Orleans, Barbados, Nicaragua, South Carolina and Washington D.C.

The projects, all funded by the SGA, were also sponsored by contributions from attending volunteers.

The ten students involved in the New Orleans project aided African American boys in grades five through eight by teaching classes and painting the walls of Bishop Perry Middle School, a school asking only $20 a month for its tuition in order to aid families in economic strife.

According to one of the members, when asked what they would like to major in when they grow up, the boys at the school said they want to “major in basketball.”

Volunteers, in addition to playing basketball with the boys, taught subjects ranging from Slavery and Discrimination to Language Arts.

“We definitely learned a lot of the differences between the North and the South,” a New Orleans volunteer said.

Members of the Washington D.C group said they were amazed at how someone in such proximity to the nation’s capital could live in such impoverished conditions.

Included in the D.C presentation were words from the pop star Stacie Orico’s song ‘Instead,’ which the group felt summed up their spring break experience.”

Also in the presentation was an original poem by one of its members, recounting his experiences.

“At the end of the week we all agreed we were happy with what we had done; in the end we could say we had a lot of fun.”

Volunteers aided an elderly man on the verge of being evicted from his neglected apartment by aiding in its cleaning and bringing the man food.

Members also assisted in food distribution in an area soup kitchen.

The six students volunteering for the Barbados project offered their services in many areas including community-based Occupational Therapy.

During their trip, students witnessed the steps of a man who had previously been unable to walk. In addition to OT services, students aided in educating women involved in domestic violence.

Victims, living in hiding to escape their abusers, were tutored in computer technology and learned several basic computer programs.

One student described the victims as “welcoming and ready to learn.”

‘It was an amazing experience I never want to forget,’ she said.

The 11 members of the Nicaragua group witnessed a land where 65% of its residents were unemployed.

Students aiding in Nicaragua participated in community projects including building an addition onto a school.

Students did cement work, put up walls and laid out the foundation.

One member said she found the experience to be quite emotional, saying she “cried once a day.”

Another member said it was a “culture shock.”

“It was hard because not all of us spoke Spanish,” he said

Also during the break, Habitat for Humanity built a house located in Sumter S.C, to aid a family of two adults and two children.

Gallagher said the family witnessed much of the construction and was grateful for the group’s efforts.

“The father and mother came to the site at different times to see how the progress was going. They were very grateful for all the hard work that was being put towards the house.”

Habitat for Humanity, an organization whose Quinnipiac chapter was founded this past fall, completes one major fundraising project a semester and participates in builds on Saturdays throughout the year.

In its first semester, the organization held its Chicken Chow Down Challenge, and other fundraising projects to aid those in need.

The organization said they are planning to continue their fundraisers with a possible balloon sale for next semester.

Gallagher commends the event for its success.

“The Shack-a-thon was very successful for it being the first time,” Gallagher said.

“All the students who participated learned a lot about Habitat and had a lot of fun.”

“It is amazing seeing so many people working on one thing for such a great cause,” Gallagher said. “I found that this is an opportunity for people to understand the situation that is out there day to day with people not able to afford a home.”

Kelly Chadbourne, junior and volunteer, attributes the event’s success to its volunteers.

“We could not have done it without them. This was a great chance to fundraise and educate the Quinnipiac community,” Chadbourne said.

“I feel like the event was very successful and look forward to doing it again next year. I want to thank all those who came out to build and those that sponsored them,” Chadbourne said.

Habitat said they would like to thank those who donated prizes and cardboard, and the Facilities for their hard work as well.


About Mindy Matteis