By Taryn Lane
Each year, Alternative Breaks (AB) sends students on domestic service trips, and those students perform all kinds of service. From rebuilding houses, to working with animals or ill children and everything in between. With around 100 students involved during the majority of the academic year, AB is one of the largest student-led organizations on this campus.
And their numbers are about to grow.
Alternative breaks is looking to add about 60 or 70 new members over the next few weeks, and those students come from a variety of service backgrounds.
“We don’t really care if people have done volunteering work before, just as long as they are amped about doing it now,” Morgan Kinney, a graduate assistant working with AB and who has been on five different service trips, said.
With the application deadline looming, Kinney expects an influx of applications at the last minute.
“We’ve changed [the process] a lot in the past couple of years,” Kinney said. “Because we were doing first-come, first-serve, which is when everybody would line up outside the door at 7 a.m. — more like at midnight the night before and sleep in the union — and it was really preventing first-years from applying, because the younger students didn’t really know.”
Now, AB has an online application, and they score their applications with an effort-based rubric.
Missy Thompson, a fourth-year and co-coordinator of Alternative Breaks this year, is one of three who score the applications. Her favorite thing about the application is the focus on the mission of the trip.
“[On the application] we have a vague description of what the trips are, so it’s like ‘working with children in a hospital,’… that way they are ranking it based off of the issue, not the destination,” Thompson said. “We really try to focus on the social issue.”
Some of the places that AB has sent its members in the past include the Carolina Tiger Rescue to work with tigers and other large cats, the Grand Canyon for trail maintenance, and Florida to do beach cleanups, among many others.
Kayley Johnson joined AB last year, where she worked with children with special medical needs at a daycare in Philadelphia called Frankie’s World.
“I’m most excited about working with different social group,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to work with people that may or may not have gone on a trip already, so this might be their first experience, and I’m excited to give them that experience that I had.”
Each service trip is a well-rounded experience, according to Thompson.
“You get connections with people in different organizations that you might find yourself wanting to be involved in, or you might find a job that you wanna [sic] go back to once you graduate,” Thompson said.
Thompson hopes to go back to work for the site of her second service trip, the Denver Children’s Hospital, after graduation.
“It’s a personal experience, too. You find out a lot about yourself that you didn’t know prior to going on your trip,” she said. “It’s really cool and eye-opening to see something that you might not have any connection to that now you find yourself very passionate about.”