A whirlwind of service in just three days’ time: How UWF students give back through ASB

Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor

 A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community. Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community.
Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

While most UWF students spent their Spring Break relaxing at the beach, a group of service-oriented students did the opposite: They volunteered. Earlier this month, The Voyager covered a story about one group of students who worked with Habitat for Humanity in Boca Raton. However, another group of students went a bit more north – to North Carolina.

“The [North Carolina] trip was mainly focused on environmental concerns,” said Janine Velez-Vazquez, a senior trip leader double majoring in International Studies and Biological Anthropology. “But [we] had a mixture of different components.”

The UWF students spent their jam-packed three days volunteering by cleaning up parks and roads, working with a no-kill animal shelter and helping to organize a crisis center.

The crisis center, Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), helps clothe people in the community. Brother Wolf, the animal shelter, provides refuge for animals by providing resources and programs aimed at creating a no-kill community. The volunteers also worked with Riverlink to help clear the roadways by two major rivers, as well as cleaned up two parks at their housing location, Christmount Christian Assembly, a retreat nestled in the North Carolina mountains.

Both the Boca Raton and North Carolina groups shared more than just their drive to volunteer; they also shared the method through which they volunteered: UWF’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program.

ASB2

A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community.
Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

The goal of ASB is to involve students in social justice issues by “training them in an active way in the areas of citizenship and common purpose within diverse cultures and environments,” according to their UWF website page.

“I highly recommend participating in the ASB program,” said Marianna Autrey, a senior majoring in health science with a concentration in allied health, about her experience volunteering in Boca Raton. “I made friendships I hope last, enjoyed my break in a positive way and came back with a better mindset.”

Autrey said she already has a few ideas for next year’s trip, and she plans to apply for a leadership position to implement them. “I like to work with building public health and attacking community health disparities through change initiatives,” Autrey said. Students who apply to become a Trip Leader have the chance to choose the type of volunteer work in which they would like to participate.

In order to partake in next year’s Alternative Spring Break, a few requirements must be met: Participants must be enrolled in at least six credit hours; a fee of $75 must be paid prior to departure; and a cumulative GPA of 2.00 must be maintained. If a student is interested in participating, the application is due by Feb. 3, 2017. Applicants will be interviewed and notified of the final selection by Feb. 13, 2017. The volunteers also must attend all three pre-trip meetings as well as one post-trip session.

Another Boca Raton volunteer, SGA University Outreach Chair Zac Laczko, said, “I plan on participating again. I would be interested in a public health campaign or environmental conservation, but as long as we are doing service, it really doesn’t matter too much to me.” Laczko is a graduate student at UWF working toward a degree in Early American Studies.

Students interested in learning more about the ASB program can find all the pertinent information on the program’s homepage. A link to the application for becoming a Trip Leader within the program is also provided on their website’s homepage, but it can also be found directly on ArgoPulse.