Teams To Spend Spring Break Serving Others, Growing as Leaders
March 8, 2017
During last year's Alternative Spring Break, the University's Social Services team served with the San Antonio Food Bank.
About 100 students at The University of Texas at Dallas will devote their spring break next week to helping at-risk youths, assisting with environmental conservation and providing disaster relief as volunteers on 10 projects across the country.
Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a service immersion program organized by the University’s Office of Student Volunteerism during spring semester. This year, Fraternity and Sorority Life is partnering to help on the projects.
Team members work with a student site leader and a University staff or faculty member as they perform service projects, learn about social issues, engage in cultural activities and develop leadership skills.
Beginning in January, the teams meet to discuss travel logistics, navigate group dynamics and share dialogues about the agencies and communities they will serve.
“Each year we see ASB participants returning from their service trips more informed, equipped with new skills, and having a deeper understanding of their personal impact and potential as community leaders.”
“The Alternative Spring Break program offers Comets a one-of-a-kind leadership development opportunity,” said Monalisa Amidar MA'15, director of the Office of Student Volunteerism. “Each year we see ASB participants returning from their service trips more informed, equipped with new skills, and having a deeper understanding of their personal impact and potential as community leaders.”
New project sites this year include the Ashby House in Salina, Kansas, where a Hunger and Homelessness team will assist with organizing and sorting donations, cleanup activities, assisting at classes, helping prepare for special events, basic yard work, gardening and facilities maintenance.
Another new site is the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in San Angelo, Texas, where students on an Animal Services team will help care for abused, neglected or abandoned donkeys, and perform basic grounds work such as habitat maintenance, construction, organization and cleanup.
Students who participate say ASB is a life-changing experience.
Business administration junior Sara Valles traveled to Mississippi last year with the Affordable Housing team to work with Habitat for Humanity in impoverished neighborhoods. The team of students painted, hammered, drilled, roofed and built ramps for homeowners.
“For one week, my team and I were immersed in a small part of this state, where the number of potholes and abandoned houses were too many to count. This was an eye-opening experience for everyone. We were living in the heart of the area we were going to serve,” Valles said.
Accounting sophomore and Terry Scholar Dave Gutierrez spent spring break last year volunteering at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat, a camp in Killeen, Texas, for children with disabilities.
“Seeing the kids come together from all kinds of different backgrounds for the camp was amazing,” he said. “It allowed our team to see that the struggles we deal with at UTD cannot even compare to what some of these kids deal with every single day. We were able to see life from a different perspective, which truly helped us see why we were there.”