Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

ASB Trips Leave Impressions on Suffolk Students

Suffolk University students had the opportunity to serve in 12 different communities across the country over this spring break through the S.O.U.L.S. Center for Community Engagement’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Students worked with local non-profits on everything from affordable housing to environmental issues and LGBTQ issues.

Junior accounting major Tyler Burke went on an ASB trip to Athens, Ga. two years ago and said that the trip “was such a great, selfless experience” that he knew he had to go on another one. Burke travelled to Meridian, Miss. this year to work with Habitat for Humanity. Students on this trip helped build a home for a partner family and worked on an existing home of an 80-year-old woman named Lois through Habitat’s A Brush with Kindness program.

Lois, who was very thankful for the students’ work on the exterior of her house, invited them inside each day for coffee.

“We had great conversations with her,” Burke said, “One day she got a phone call from her daughter and told her ‘I can’t talk right now, I’ve got good company.’” Burke said this moment left an impression on the group that they were not just helping Lois by fixing up her house, but also by keeping her company and learning about her life.

Evan Griffin, a junior English major, participated in his first ASB trip this year after hearing so much about it from friends.

“I did it to do something that makes a difference,” Griffin said, “and when I went I really feel like I did.”

Griffin’s group worked with park rangers in Triangle, Va. at Prince William Forrest Park to help restore parts of the national park. This trip also required students to take a class, which is not typical of ASB trips, that taught them about the civilian and conservation core set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a part of his New Deal to create jobs during the Great Depression.

“We probably saved the maintenance workers at the park about a week’s work in just two days,” Griffin said. The ASB group worked to restore screens for the window of old log cabins around the 19,000 acre park. One day students helped to clear debris and trash from the north section of the park where a family had been living in trailers for decades before the federal government acquired the land.

“We dug up old cars from the riverbed that the family had put there to divert the river’s flow from their home,” Griffin said, “We even had to haul the entire frame of the bottom of a trailer.”

Although students learned a lot about environmental issues in their class and on the trip, Griffin believes that you don’t have to be in the environmental field to appreciate the work that needs to be done.

“You come to the realization that no matter what background you have, you can be environmentally conscious,” Griffin said.

Luke Tanguay, a junior interior design major, served as a trip leader on this year’s LGBTQ advocacy trip to Philadelphia. Tanguay served as a volunteer last year on the same trip and was excited to go back as a leader.

“I wanted to give a group of students the same opportunity that I was given,” Tanguay said.

Students on Tanguay’s trip worked with the non-profit Equality PA to do canvassing and awareness work for LGBTQ issues. While Tanguay said canvassing on the street could get tough, he thought it was a good experience for the group to “get out of their comfort zones.” Students also worked with Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) to help serve meals to ill people and helped to preserve a library section dedicated to LGBTQ books.

Tanguay had an interaction with an older man while he was canvassing who told him his story about coming out as gay and the challenges he has faced over the years as a gay man.

“That hits you hard,” Tanguay said, “We think it’s so hard now [for the advancement of LGBTQ equality] but it was even harder back then. It’s sad that it is still so hard.”

Tanguay said he will “absolutely” be applying to go on another ASB trip next year, echoing the sentiment of many other ASB students.

“It’s a great way for students to learn from each other,” Tanguay said. Griffin had a similar realization about his trip: “It forces you to see things from a different perspective.”

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ASB Trips Leave Impressions on Suffolk Students