Alternative spring break, country-style

by Stephen Briggs

Alternative Spring Break - Nashville - Habitat for Humanity - 2019

Jeff Miutz, a senior management major with a concentration in entrepreneurship, has some thoughts about getting the most out of your time at JMU. “It’s good to get out of the JMU bubble, open your horizons and do something new,” he says, “Change your perspective.” 

Students assembling cabinets during alternative Spring Break - 2019That style of thinking saw him spend time last summer doing direct service work in West Virginia with AmeriCorps, and also led him to be the student leader of the College of Business alternative spring break trip to Nashville, Tenn. 

Though it was his first alternative break trip, Miutz has been in leadership roles before. With facilities management, he led a crew that power-washed the Bridgeforth football stadium one summer, and now is a shift supervisor for JMU libraries. After a year of classroom training to prepare him for the role, he was joined by Jake Cunningham, Jenna Koske, Sydney Lanham, Alisa Malychev, Catey Susco and Emily Suleski on a trip to help the Habitat for Humanity ReStore with their mission to provide housing to those in need. The First Presbyterian Church of Nashville provided accommodations for the volunteers. 

Students framing a Habitat for Humanity house during alternative Spring Break - 2019Serving in a retail location, the students unloaded trucks, moved merchandise to the floor and loaded items into customer vehicles. Miutz characterized it as “a ton of manual labor and working in a retail appliance store, doing merchandising, pricing and setting up of displays.” 

First-time learning partner Rebecca Wood, who accompanied the group on the trip, said, “What impressed me the most is the way our group ‘molded' together very quickly and was able to help a great cause while learning about each other.” 

For Miutz, the best part of volunteering was “definitely working with the different people who came through the ReStore. The mixture of all the people who work there meshing together, and seeing all of their different personalities and backgrounds was really interesting. The students fit right in.” 

But the rewards came in other ways as well. “We had an alumni visit, where they came to the church where we were staying and had dinner with us one night,” Miutz explained. “One of the alumni is a teacher where habitat builds in East Nashville. He told us about the boost in confidence he’s seen first-hand from students who have received housing, and what a difference it made in the classroom. It was incredible to see our impact from a third-party.”

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Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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