Students recount Spring Break adventures in service

Sara Levering, Staff Writer

Leaders and participants spoke and presented on their experiences and interactions with people during Alternative Spring Break.

For students who wanted to do something different and give back during spring break, there were three service trips that took place in Portland, Tacoma and Thorne Bay.

First was in Thorne Bay, Alaska, a small community of around 500 people.

The group of twelve split into three different groups going to different places and cleaning up at Control Lake Cabin and digging a hole for a future outhouse at Stanley Creek.

They worked extensively with a Forestry Technician and a greenhouse manager with the local school district.

One group also built a chicken coop for school children to learn about chickens while another group went to El Capitan Lake and cleared out invasive trees.

The trip was focused on sustainability and refurnishing places rather than destroying a place and having to rebuild from the ground up.

Gabi Gonzalez, ’16, said, “It was very interactive learning and hands-on, we learned about native cultures.”

Sara Gomez, ’18, the Alternative Spring Break Director, said, “We really immersed ourselves in the culture.”

In Portland, a group led by Deizhanna Kaya-Abad, ’17, and assistant Sam Beyer, ’17, worked at different YMCA branches in SE Portland for the week. The group of 12 spread themselves out into three smaller groups.

One group went to Y-Choice, an early development aged group. These students worked with very young children and cleaned up around the facility.

Another group went to Portland Community College’s daycare and another group went to Y-Arts which was focused on arts and creativity.

Bruce Li, ’20, had the opportunity to work closely with the kids and take them on a nature walk. “I didn’t think I would make a difference, but I actually did,” Li said.

Others organized inside the facility, planted a garden and painted a mural.

Kaya-Abad said the YMCA staff hadn’t gotten the time to clean up and organize so the ASB did in-direct service.

“I had to realize that in-direct service is still service” and “a lot of the children don’t come from strong backgrounds and they got to see volunteer work and by the end of the week were jumping in,” Beyer said.

Kaya-Abad said, “In-direct service was the theme of this trip.”

Led by Kelly Ackerman, ’18, the Tacoma trip focused on hunger and homelessness. They partnered with Habitat for Humanity and worked in three neighborhoods. At the Tacoma Rescue Mission, they served dinner.

In one week, they completed a home and participated in a dedication ceremony. The group did a plethora of things while building this house, like landscaping, painting and tiling and more.

Ackerman said the trip opened everyone’s eyes, “We gained a greater understanding of people living in poverty and why they end up in the situations they do, and why building these houses is so important.”

They were able to gain perspective, “Our eyes were opened up when we were volunteering at the soup kitchen and we kept saying we were so hungry, but then people kept coming through the line, the thought of hunger left our minds when we remembered that dinner was most likely their first meal for the day.”

For those who participated in ASB, it was an experience they will not soon forget.