Nearly 120 students will spend Spring Break doing service through the university’s Alternative Spring Break program.
IUP’s Alternative Spring Break is a student-run community service organization with a mission to promote critical thinking, social action, and continued community involvement by combining education and service on local, regional, and national levels.
The Alternative Spring Break experience consists of an intensive week of service at locations around the United States. Participants also are required to do pre-event training and post-break activities.
“The Alternative Spring Break experience requires students to confront a wide range of important social issues that sometimes go unnoticed in a traditional academic setting,” Dr. Caleb Finegan, founding director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership, said. “This year is especially interesting because of the diversity of the trips in terms of their focus, from trail building to animal rescue and relief to work with Habitat for Humanity.”
IUP’s Alternative Spring Break program, now in its ninth year, is adding two new trips this year: one to Washington, D.C., and one to New Orleans.
In Washington, D.C., students will work with a Wider Circle, a human-service agency that provides basic-need items to families transitioning out of shelters or living without life’s necessities. The organization also provides educational workshops in schools and shelters. In addition, students involved in this project will meet with a government official to discuss issues of poverty.
In New Orleans, students will do service projects and work with community events, with an emphasis on personal service reflections. Students will live at Camp Restore during the week.
Other service locations and projects are as follows:
The students will depart either Friday or Saturday, March 4 or 5, at the beginning of Spring Break and, by the end of their trip, will log almost 10,000 miles of traveling, according to Finegan.
Finegan, who began teaching at IUP in 2000 in the History Department, started the service program when he found that IUP did not have an Alternative Spring Break organization. He began recruiting students by word of mouth, bulletin board advertisements, and classroom announcements. He also raised awareness about Alternative Spring Break with a homelessness simulation that involved students’ occupying a makeshift outdoor shelter, complete with cardboard box “homes,” for an entire week.
“I want to offer my sincere gratitude to the IUP administration for their assistance in making this year’s trips a success, particularly Mark Geletka, Connie Berringer, Dr. Rhonda Luckey, Terry Appolonia, Mark Anthony, Diane Stipcak, Vanessa Gregorakis, and Carol Ramer.”
For more information, visit the Alternative Spring Break website.