Nearly 400 James Madison University students, faculty and staff members will spend Spring Break 2011 – March 5-12 – helping people in 13 states and seven foreign countries. Arranged in 35 teams, the Alternative Spring Break participants will staff soup kitchens and food banks, tutor children in after-school programs and remove invasive plants in national parks, among other projects, as they carry on a 19-year campus tradition.
ASB is part of JMU's award-winning Alternative Break Program, which coordinates opportunities for students to assist people while learning more about societal issues, including homelessness, education, immigration and health problems. The ABP, run through the university's Office of Community Service Learning, is composed of service trips at Spring Break and Thanksgiving, in May and on selected weekends throughout the year.
JMU's Alternative Break Program is a two-time recipient of the Break Away National Program of the Year award in recognition of the university's commitment to active citizenship. Break Away honored the JMU program in 2010 and 1999. The national nonprofit organization supports the development of quality alternative break programs by providing training and information to colleges and nonprofit organizations interested in creating lifelong active citizens.
The university's alternative break tradition offers today's students many reasons to join an ASB team, said Misty Newman, assistant director of Community Service Learning for Alternative Break Programs. "Some students approach the program as something they need to do before they graduate. Others want to try something new, while some students want to use an experience to help determine their future vocation or service."
Participants on driving trips, those less than 1,000 miles from JMU, pay $250, while longer-distance and foreign-destination trips cost up to $1,400. Alternative spring breakers adopt a simple living concept during the week, spending $6 per person per day for meals. The concept helps college-age students relate better to many of the people they are working with during Spring Break by realizing the value of every dollar, Newman said. Simple living also enhances team building among the groups as members share resources to benefit each team.
JMU established its ABP in 1992, when 50 students and two staff leaders spent Spring Break in service to other people. A total of 569 participants joined 45 alternative break teams in the 2009-10 academic year – five at Thanksgiving, 39 at Spring Break and one large Hurricane Katrina Relief at May Break that drew 56 participants.
The university's ABP is the second oldest in the nation. Vanderbilt University is credited with establishing the first program.
Alternative Spring Break Trips:
Phoenix, Refugee resettlement in the greater Phoenix area focusing on urban community wellness.
Crescent City, Redwoods National Park, assisting with environmental preservation projects in the park.
Los Angeles, AIDS Project LA, providing services, including assisting with a food bank, housing, publications and special events, to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles, LA's BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) providing after school education, enrichment and recreation opportunities in a safe, supervised environment at 180 elementary schools in low-income areas in Los Angeles.
San Diego, Casa Familiar, helping with English education, cooking meals and interacting with families at the nonprofit organization that focuses on immigration issues.
Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree National Park, coordinated service work with the National Park Service, including train maintenance, landscaping, invasive plant removal, mapping, surveying and data collecting.
Big Munson Island, Sea Base, assisting with beach cleaning and invasive plant removal on the island in the Florida Keys.
Bristol, The Nature Conservancy, assisting with preservation of the natural habitats in some of Florida's state parks.
Jacksonville, Practical Academic Cultural Education for Girls Inc., assisting girls ages 12 to 17 in the community-based diversion and early intervention program to prevent school withdrawal, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and welfare dependency.
Lakeland, East Coast Migrant Head Start, (cosponsored with the Office of International Programs and Ashby Hall-Madison International Learning Community) helping with services inside and outside the classroom.
Orlando, Heart of Florida United Way, working with various nonprofit agencies, particularly those focusing on projects benefiting children.
Winter Park, InterFaith Hospitality Network, (cosponsored with the Center for Multicultural Student Services) to help families in need by assisting with meal preparation and planning evening activities.
Atlanta, Café 458, helping at the restaurant that serves the homeless in a warm, caring environment.
Savannah, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, tutoring and holding writing events at three elementary schools, (course-based trip for Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication 340 class).
Honolulu, Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, providing assistance in marine debris cleanup on beaches along the Kahuku coastline.
New Orleans, Project Lazarus, helping AIDS patients living in the homelike hospice by participating in game nights, painting the premises and other activities.
Biloxi, Hands on Gulf Coast, assisting with a variety of projects to help people in the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill, including rebuilding houses, working with children, doing environmental cleanup, community garden development and serving at a soup kitchen.
Natchez, Sunshine Children's Center, assisting with an after-school care program and tutoring students at the safe haven for abused and neglected children.
Kansas City, The Sheffield Place, assisting at the transitional living facility for women and children who have been forced from their homes.
Silver City, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area of the Gila National Park, (cosponsored with University Recreation) coordinated service work with the National Park Service on trail and site maintenance projects and with the National Forest Service on backcountry trail maintenance.
Charlotte, LifeSpan, coordinated service work at the center that provides education, employment and enrichment programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Wilmington, Canterbury Episcopal Campus Ministry-affiliated trip to help at a homeless shelter.
York, York Place, serving in the classrooms, beautifying the campus and spending time with children in the residential treatment facility for children with significant emotional or behavioral disorders.
Maryville, Once Upon A Time Homestead (cosponsored with University Unions) working on environmentally focused activities and community-based activities among the Cherokee people and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest and Sequoyah Museum.
Nashville, Lutheran Presbyterian Campus Ministry-affiliated trip to help with rebuilding projects.
Big Stone Gap, Lonesome Pine Office on Youth, assisting at the office as part of analyzing social service delivery in the area and comparing the methods of social work/social services to those in non-rural settings.
Nassau, New Province Island, Uriah McPhee Primary School, (cosponsored with University Recreation) working with school officials to provide activities and program using portable equipment, including a ropes course and hula hoops to provide an atmosphere of fun.
San Jose, "Making a Difference: Service Learning Writing," (course-based trip for Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication 322 class) doing humanitarian work and exploring narrative writing to understand and document personal experiences.
Monte Cristi, Orphanage Outreach, teaching English and other elementary education needs to orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children.
Arutam, assisting the Shuar Tribe by helping to blaze trails, build gardens, construct buildings and improve sustainability.
El Progreso, Organization for Youth Empowerment, working on projects that will help to complete the final stages of a leadership program designed for Honduran youth.
El Progreso, Students Helping Honduras, assisting the nonprofit organization with building schools and improving infrastructures within communities.
Montego Bay, Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill, working at the nongovernmental organization's day center helping with various activities.
Treasure Beach, Volunteer in Jamaica Opportunity Network, assisting the Sandy Bank Primary School to promote reading among students who are reading below grade level and assisting with the assembly of playgrounds at local schools.
Trujillo, Peru 109, working on community projects that involve literacy support for children, various after-school programs, community improvement and renovation in low-income areas.
* Community Service-Learning
March 1, 2011