Students dedicate Spring Break to service, social justice training
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For many college students, spring break is a time to unwind at home, visit friends and family, or enjoy an exciting vacation. However, some Suffolk students decided to use their week off from school to help those in need.
Each year, Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement sends students to different locations all across the country during winter and spring breaks to work as volunteers for different organizations. This year, some students spent their vacations in Colorado, Mississippi, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Senior Jessica DiLorenzo traveled to Bel Air, Md where she worked with Habitat for Humanity. This was her third year with Suffolk’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program and led this year’s trip.
“I have a passion for service learning. It’s such a great feeling to make an impact on someone’s life who will never be able to repay you,” said DiLorenzo in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal.
Despite the trip being cut short due to a blizzard, her group made the most of their time and were able to rehabilitate a house, as well as work with the company “ReStore” who collects donated furniture and hardware and sells them to fund the housing projects.
“Every year I am shocked how well the groups come together and get to know one another,” said DiLorenzo. “There is also a learning aspect where we teach students social justice curricular leading up to the trip so that students really understand why the work we are doing is so important.”
Junior Global Business and Marketing major Hannah Drain was a part of the group that traveled to Meridian, Mississippi. Her group of 14 painted walls, hung drywall and worked on outdoor cleaning in order to restore a family’s home, all while interacting with them and learning about the state of Miss.
“I learned so much about southern culture and hospitality. All of the stereotypes that we had we were able to resolve. I learned more about why things are the way they are, as well as what the misconceptions are,” said Drain in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal.
Drain said she appreciated the experience and urged other students to take advantage of this experience. “It’s a great opportunity to meet new people while doing something as powerful as Habitat for Humanity,” she said.
Senior Public Relations major Cortney Holmes traveled to Denver, Colo. as a part of the ASB program. This was her fourth year, and has loved it ever since her first trip as a freshman.
“I think we have a duty to give back and work with not only our own community, but other communities as well, said Holmes. “I think it’s easy for people to stay in what is familiar to them and only think about their experiences in the world.”
While community service is the primary goal of the Alternative Spring Break program, students often learn valuable life lessons and build friendships with their fellow peers.
“It’s a great way to leave your comfort zone with a supportive group of people that will become your friends. It’s a way to realize the privileges we have as individuals and do our best to impact others,” said DiLorenzo.