This spring, ten Wells students traveled to Washington D.C. for Alternative Spring Break (ASB), organized and accompanied by John O’Connor, Director of Student Activities and Leadership, and Hailey Uribe, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Coordinator of Residential Programming. For the past six years, Wells' Student Activities Office has organized and sponsored ASB as a way to involve students in the greater community through meaningful volunteer and non-profit charity work.
This year, the students spent the week with the United Way’s “Break a Difference” program, which organizes charity work for student volunteers in several locations across the country. “I think one point of having an Alternative Spring Break is immersing students in different environments and cultures that they wouldn’t normally encounter in the village,” says Hailey Uribe, “So allowing students who are interested in education and working with children encounter that experience in a large-city environment was a decisive factor when choosing D.C. for ASB.”
From D.C., the ASB volunteers traveled to the Boys & Girls Club in the neighboring city of Alexandria, Va., to lend their services to the after-school program. The volunteers spent several afternoons helping children with their homework, participating in arts & crafts, and leading athletic activities. In the past, student volunteers have worked together with Habitat for Humanity to construct houses in New Orleans, La. However, working with children at the Boys & Girls club was rewarding for both the staff and students involved. “The experience of working with kids lasts, and stays with you longer,” says Uribe, “and for many of the girls who went, the experience helped them confirm what type of direction they want to continue in college and after college.” Meeting and talking to adults who had grown up going to the same Boys & Girls the volunteers were currently volunteering at proved the lasting impact rendered by the hard work of the volunteers as well.
Outside of working with the Boys & Girls Club, when the volunteers found free time, they visited the many museums and exhibitions the D.C. area had to offer, including a trip to a few of the Smithsonian exhibits, further enhancing the educational benefits of the volunteer experience.
The students who participated also raised funds for the trip to help pay for travel and program expenses through extensive fundraising, including a “Go Fund Me” campaign, an Even/Odd Penny War in which the Evens prevailed, and a collection of returnable recyclables from Wells’ residence halls. The surrounding village community also came together to raise funds for the ASB trip; many donations were received from many of the villagers and the Fargo collected and donated recyclables as well. With such resounding support from the Wells community, there are hopes to continue and potentially expand involvement ASB trips in the future. If enough support and interest in reached, Student Activities projects that future ASB trips could be taken to locations in the mid-west or along the west coast.
Learn more on the Break a Difference website.