Alternatives to a Typical Spring Break Offer Many Kinds of Compassionate Service

foodbank.jpegSophomore and biology major, Bianca Rose was one of 14 students who went to Portland, Oregon last year to tackle hunger and homelessness issues during her spring beak. She was interested in the program because she had done some volunteering through Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa where she served meals to the homeless.

"Seeing people's hungry faces the first time that I volunteered at the shelter broke my heart, and at that point I became determined to continue to help them," Rose said. She became determined to attend the Portland Alternative Break because it was focused on hunger and homelessness. "I knew that participating on this trip would educate me more about the topic and give me an opportunity to help the cause," she said.

Rose was also a Bonner Americorps student, who dedicated her time to complete 300 hours of community service in a year. An alternative break was one way to get hours and gain a new perspective on service in a new place.

For most college students, spring break equates to a week of having fun with friends, spending time with family, going on vacation, and of course the notorious partying associated with college life. For Rose and a number of other SSU students like her, spring break has become synonymous with volunteerism.

"Alternative Breaks becomes an addiction. It opens your eyes to multiple social justice issues and creates a never ending burning passion towards creating change in our society."

"Alternative Spring Breaks is a nationwide movement college students have been partaking in, to strive towards social justice by participating in an educational week-long trip," said Katey Gama, Join Us Making Progress (JUMP) Director of Alternative Breaks.

Bianca Rose"Leading up to the trips participants become more educated about the issue through meetings and bonding within their groups. We work towards breaking down the stereotype of what people assume to be a college spring break." Gama has attended two alternative break trips, both of them to Maryville, TN.

Aside from the chance to help others, the trips provide opportunities to cultivate new friendships with other students that are passionate about social justice issues. "Not only do you make the closest bonds with a new group of people, you experience a life changing week that will forever change you," Gama said.

"Alternative Breaks becomes an addiction. It opens your eyes to multiple social justice issues and creates a never ending burning passion towards creating change in our society."

This year students will be going on four different trips focusing on different social justice issues. 77 students applied, and 44 students are going.

This semester's trips include:

"The Effects of Greed on the Environment" - Maryville, TN.
Participants will explore the effects of mountain top removal, damning, and the benefits of environmental advocacy through a variety of service projects.

"Repairing Homes, Rebuilding Hope: Disaster Relief"- New Orleans, LA.

Participants will be working with many non-profits that work with victims of natural disasters. Students will be rebuilding homes, working with youth, and doing environmental projects.

"Serving Justice: An Exploration of Food Justice in the Bay Area" -Bay Area, CA.

Participants will be volunteering with a variety of organizations that educate, organize, and foster new social relations around food to change eating and distribution patterns in the Greater Bay Area.

"Breaking the Cycle of Hunger & Homelessness" - Portland, OR.

Students will work with several non-profits working to alleviate homelessness and hunger in the Greater Portland Area, including: Loaves Fishes, Oregon Food & Downtown Chapel.

For more information, visit or contact Katey Gama at

TOP: SSU students at Oregon Food Bank. Right, Bianca Rose working with Habitat for Humanity in Vancouver, Washington.

HOME PAGE: SSU students at a Tennessee service project.

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