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Sonoma State students made Tucson, Arizona television news for their volunteer work over spring break. The Alternative Spring Break is a program that belongs to JUMP (Join Us in Making Progress) and provides students with the opportunity to attend a week long service trip for their spring break.
This year the program sent teams of students to Tucson as well as Portland, Oregon to focus on hunger and homelessness. In Las Vegas, Nevada they targeted urban poverty. There was also a coastal trip that focused on food justice, as well as a Northern California trip that was aimed at environmental justice.
"This trip motivated me to continue volunteering in the community. I am very grateful for this experience and I would recommend it to everyone!" said SSU nursing student Julia Olejniczak.
The 11 students sent to Arizona focused their efforts on expanding health care access and improving public health in general in the Tucson area. During the trip the students were able to work with different community organizations that shed light on different aspects of health care.
"On Monday, we worked with Get Covered America which is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and information for people to sign up for health care through the new Affordable Care Act, " said student Veronica Galdamez.
Students went door to door, providing uninsured residents with resources and information on how to sign up, where to sign up and the deadline. Later that afternoon they made follow up calls to insure that those they spoke to were able to sign up before the deadline. Their hard work soon caught the attention of local news outlets which quickly ran a story about their efforts.
As the week continued the students' volunteer projects touched on other issues regarding public health. Students partnered with an organization named Project C.U.R.E, which sends medical supplies and equipment to developing countries. The students helped package vital goods such as syringes and entire labor and heart surgery kits.
Later that week, they had two projects. The first was Easter Seals, which provides support for individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities. Later, they worked with the International Rescue Committee who help refugee children from Somalia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Iraq, Afghanistan. "It was a real eye-opening experience for everyone," said Galdamez.
Alternative Break Trips provide students with an opportunity to travel to a new location and get involved with local service projects. The trip is often a life-changing experience for the students who participate. In the past, students have volunteered in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama.
- Dana Denesha
ABOVE, Homelessness and Urban Poverty Alternative Breakers bagged 4,643 meals to be spread across Oregon.