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ASB Day 1 Video Day one: Warehouse workers
(QuickTime 1.4MB)
ASB Day 3 Video Day three: Rain check
(QuickTime 2.5MB)
ASB Day 4 Video Day four
(QuickTime 1.2MB)
ASB Day 5 Video Day five: Kelly's house
(QuickTime 2.5MB)
ASB why we came video Why we came
(QuickTime 3.4MB)

One group of UAF students used their spring break this year to do anything but take a vacation. Instead, they invested their time, energy and money helping people whose homes and lives were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The trip, dubbed "Alternative Spring Break," was organized by the UAF Leadership Program. A team of students and staff formed in January and worked until March to figure out logistics and raise funds for the nearly 3,500-mile trip to New Orleans neighborhoods affected by the hurricanes.

Two UAF student team leaders, 10 student volunteers and one staff member joined students from colleges and universities across the nation to spend their March 9 - 19, 2007 break from classes working with representatives of Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, learning about construction, community service, leadership and themselves.

"I realized that community volunteering and involvement is important to the growth and prosperity of any society, and I will continue volunteering my time and abilities throughout my life, whether through my profession or whatever comes up," said one participant in a post-program evaluation.

ASB 2007 participants included JJ Boggs, staff advisor; Kari Pile and Tabitha Johnson, student team leaders; and students Temple Dillard, Alexis Fernandez, Cynthia Lashinski, Brian Lyke, Erica Milstead, Renee Pasker, Clarissa Ribbens, Megan Richards, Emily Schooley and Erica Schooley.

The ASB team contributed to the construction of several Habitat for Humanity homes. The team constructed bunk beds, prefabricated shed trusses and walls, built fences, constructed stairs, painted interiors and exteriors, caulked, spackled, landscaped and nailed on roofing material.

The end products were homes for people whose lives were forever altered by the hurricanes. A highlight of the trip for many of the UAF students was seeing the tangible differences that volunteers can make in people’s lives. Boggs said it was from these experiences that some of the most lasting effects of the trip emerged.

"[I learned about] the importance of helping others, no matter who, where, why or how. We can't forget about the people around us who are in need," said Cynthia Lashinski.

While two members of the team were shopping for groceries in Louisiana, a community member noticed their t-shirts and offered to purchase $70 worth of food for their team. Random acts of kindness like that coming from members of the community who were not directly affected by the volunteers made the students feel like what they were doing truly mattered.

"I feel that everything I did was important no matter how small of a job it was, because in the end everything comes together."

"I feel that everything I did was important no matter how small of a job it was, because in the end everything comes together. Without the little things, some of the bigger jobs cannot be completed," Erica Milstead said.

Boggs said the lessons learned by this team of students and staff will be invaluable as the Leadership Program helps team leaders plan UAF's future Alternative Spring Break projects.

"We are trying to instill the value of civic engagement in our students," said Boggs. She noted that these students will take that awareness back to their home communities.

Lessons learned in service projects like this will also be useful to students and staff who return to lead student organizations in successful community service in the Fairbanks community, Boggs said.

"Many of the ASB participants are now and will probably forever be energized to volunteer within their community and beyond."

Boggs said the trip cost almost $13,500 for travel, food and housing. Each student contributed $500 and also spent many hours planning and executing numerous fundraising events months before the actual trip. The students organized a spaghetti feed, numerous bake sales, a Mardi Gras dance and various fundraisers at Alaska Nanook hockey and basketball games. In addition, ASUAF, the Office of University Advancement, and the
Alumni Association responded generously to funding requests from the team.

"Alternative Spring Break Program is a fantastic way to give your time and abilities to those in need," said Lashinski. "I would recommend it to everyone. It is a fantastic way to meet new people, and not waste your spring break [at] parties and such. Not only do you get to travel and see a new place, but you really feel good for volunteering your time and helping others who can't always help themselves."

"Alternative Spring Breaks are life-changing experiences--for the recipients as well as the participants."

This was the second time a team of students from UAF participated in an Alternative Spring Break program. Colleges in the Lower 48 started offering alternative programs in the early 80s as an antidote to the popular image of college students on spring break carousing on beaches. A quick search of the Internet reveals that dozens of colleges and universities participate in annual ASB projects. The projects offer students from all over the country an opportunity to participate in public service, as well as to learn about social issues and how to advocate for those affected by those concerns, whether in New Orleans or their own hometown.

The Alternative Spring Break Program will continue to be an annual event organized by the UAF Leadership Program. Boggs said the ASB program is a success for UAF because it is yet another opportunity for student volunteers and those interested in leadership development to grow.

"Alternative Spring Breaks are life-changing experiences--for the recipients as well as the participants," said Boggs.

"You can’t help but be inspired when you join a national movement like this that is dedicated to creating positive change in our communities. For UAF students who truly want to make a difference, I highly recommend checking out UAF’s Alternative Spring Break program."


UAF’s 2007 Alternative Spring Break team

Team Leaders:

Participants:

Staff:


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