Level Up: Alternative Breaks

I have no doubt found another home at CMU and that is with the Alternative Breaks Program. I decided to take my involvement to another level this year by becoming a Site Leader. A Site Leader is in charge of running 8 weekly meetings and leading 10 participants to volunteer with an organization in a community in the U.S. This position also requires speaking with the housing and service partners, handling the money for food and gas, and running reflections with the group. I was lucky enough to have lead a week-long break during Spring Break to Tallahassee, Fl., lead a break for Marine Life to Muskegon, Mi, and been a participant on Community Restoration in New Jersey.

I was able to work with organization like the Saint Bernard Project, Ability 1st, and Darling Cetaceans. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to work with each of these organizations. I was able to learn a lot about the effects of Hurricane Sandy that hit the east coast, issues facing marine life all around the country, and was able to assist the special needs community in Tallahassee. Alternative Breaks has made such a large impact in my life over the past two years and I would not trade it for the world.  I am proud that it is one of my involvements at CMU. I am excited for what next year will hold as I will be once again taking on the role of site leader.


Service Across the Country

     One of the two Registered Student Organizations that I have been apart of this year is the Alternative Breaks program. CMU has one of the top AB programs in the country. I was lucky enough to have been able to participate on a Winter Break that went to Asheville, North Carolina. I went on the break focusing on Access to Sports and Recreation. We were able to work with a YMCA that held after school events for kids and ran a summer camp. We built a Gaga Ball pit, dug out a trench to help reduce the field from flooding, and ran a field day for the kids. It was awesome to improve their field and get to spend some time hanging out with the kids. Also, we were able to go out into a couple of communities and give out healthy food options and Turkeys for families to have for Christmas dinner. It was an amazing feeling to see how grateful each person was to receive a turkey and some healthy food.

The Whole AWB Group

     Coming into the week, I did not have super high expectations. I was completely blown away by the experience. I simply thought we would be volunteering at a YMCA, but it was much more than that. The things this YMCA were doing with having food drives that gave healthy options and steered people from using whatever canned food they were normally given does not get the credit it deserved. All of the workers at the YMCA had such passion for what they were doing. Especially Lisa Riggsbee, our community partner, who had so much passion and was doing so much that she was most likely not all required to do. This was such an amazing place with so many amazing people and I am so proud to have been on this break. Words can not fully describe how much this trip meant to me. My site leaders Alexandra and Cullan helped make the experience great along with my amazing group members. Everyone had such great personalities and a love for helping others.

I am so happy that I was able to experience an alternative break. It has had such a large impact in my life. I enjoyed my experience so much that I wanted to explore more that alternative breaks had to offer. This lead to me applying to become a site leader my self and be apart of the board. I was happy when I got accepted to be a site leader next year. As well, I will be one of the Weekends Site, Service,and Development Co-Chairs. I am so excited to be taking on these leadership roles next year and to be even more involved with Alternative Breaks.