WMU News

Students focus on service during spring break

Feb. 24, 2004

KALAMAZOO--"Don't shirk the work" will replace "party hardy" as the motto for hundreds of Western Michigan University students celebrating spring break this year. Although many of their peers will spend March 1-5 relaxing on tropical beaches, these students will be participating in community service projects and activities that focus on learning and spiritual growth.

More than a dozen student teams representing Alternative Spring Break, a national community service program with local chapters, and 14 teams representing eight of WMU's faith and spiritual development organizations will be fanning out across the country and abroad. Their trips will involve experiences ranging from working with AIDS patients in Texas and building an orphanage in Mexico to assisting at a wildlife refuge in the Florida everglades and working with inner-city children in Chicago.

Now in its 12th year at the University, Alternative Spring Break matches students with positive volunteer experiences where they learn the value of community service. Under the umbrella of WMU's Student Volunteer Services in the Lee Honors College, the program encourages students to leave their familiar surroundings and experience a drastically different environment.

"Although it's work, it's gratifying," says WMU senior and veteran volunteer Jenny Hills. "You're helping others, but at the same time you're helping yourself. These experiences have helped shape who I am today."

Hills, who first joined Alternative Spring Break as a freshman, will join eight other students in the 1,354-mile drive to San Antonio where they will spend the week with terminally-ill AIDS patients.

Their project is one of 13 that involves nearly 130 students who perform a wide range of service projects, including volunteering with terminally-ill children in Memphis, Tenn.; repairing homes of poor rural residents and assisting those living in temporary housing in Alamosa, Colo.; volunteering at a Native American reservation in Tahlequah, Okla., and working with the elderly in Nashville, Tenn.

WMU's faith and spiritual development student organizations also have organized several spring break excursions.

Solid Grounds Student Ministries will be sending about 17 students to help build an orphanage in Monterrey, Mexico (contact: Dag Calafell, (269) 349-1100). A student group from United Campus Ministries/InterAction/Habitat for Humanity will work with Navajo children and with kids at the Shiprock, N.M., boys and girls club (contact: Coleen Slosberg, (269) 387-2560).

A group representing the Bronco Campus Ministry will be helping Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Chicago by working in the inner-city with underprivileged children and the poor (contact: Kelly Tucker, (269) 217-5974).

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

WMU News
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