Great Things Newsletter

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips make an impact

For many college students, spring break represents hot sandy beaches and a respite from classes. However, for a special group of UDM students, spring break means something more.

Alternative Spring Break
Alternative Spring Break

ASB participants help rebuild homes inTuscaloosa, Alabama, devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Alternative Spring Break

ASB participants learned more about immigration issues affecting the border area near Nogales, Arizona.

This year 31 students and staff have participated in several volunteer projects across the country giving students a chance to experience first-hand the value of being of service to others. Groups traveled to to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (in January); New Orleans, Louisiana; Nogales, Arizona; Salem, West Virginia.; Chicago, Illinois, Washington, D.C.; as well as in Detroit to assist with building and rebuilding communities, and dealing with immigration issues, hunger and homelessness, urban and rural poverty, and food issues.

“When you think of Washington, D.C., you think of the President, and all the history and monuments,” says Junior ReShawn Wilder about his experience as a leader of the Washington, D.C., trip. “But what struck me was the number of hungry and homeless that inhabit our nation’s capital.” 

What is even more amazing about this 23 year-old program is that students pay to participate in these service projects.  University Minister Sister Beth Finster, who coordinates the program, explains, “These kids do a lot of hard work to raise the money to participate.  They work concession stands at basketball games, do bowl-a-thons, and write letters to family and friends asking for support.  One participant even sold candy bars to raise money for the trip.” 

The average cost per participant is $660 for this program, which receives no institutional support from the University.  Contributions from alumni and friends help tremendously because they reduce the amount that students have to pay or fundraise on their own.  When asked about how important giving is Wilder, who is a three-time ASB participant, replied, “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to afford to go this year. It was only through the generous support of a donor that made this year’s trip possible for me.”

Alumnus Chris Czarnik ’88, ’04, a long-time Alternative Spring Break contributor, states, “My wife Jacqui ’92 and I are proud to support this special program, which benefits both those in need and those who participate.  We feel ASB truly reflects the mission of the University in creating men and women in service for others.”

Alternative Spring Break

ASB participants prepare food at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C.