April 4, 2018
For two decades now, Franklin Pierce University has participated in the Alternative Spring Break program by traveling around the United States on different trips of community service. This, the twentieth year, a group of 20 members of the Franklin Pierce community went to New Land, NC, to participate in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. The goal of their six-day adventure was to assist in building a house for a local family and re-modeling the Restore Store also located in New Land, NC. Staff leaders on the trip were Dean of Student Involvement Scott Ansevin-Allen, Associate Director of Student Involvement, Derek Scalia and Experience Director, Michelle Bourassa. The staff was also assisted by student team leaders: Sarah Byllott, Emma Ciaranca, Kalyn DaSilva.
Experience Director Michelle Bourassa said, “I get really excited to empower the students to do this, they are scared to do it at first. However, once they try it, they enjoy the hard work. I never thought of this as something that I would be doing.” Through theHabitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge, the students got some hands-on construction experience; demolition, framing, flooring, painting, etc. The students not only learn construction skills, they also get a glimpse into different cultures around the United States. On these Spring Break trips, students are not only able to travel to a new place but they are educated and are exposed to new ideas at the same time.
Associate Director of Student Involvement Derek Scalia added, “Our program is different because for a number of years we have been exploring the idea of poverty and what that is like in different areas of the country. During the week, students learn a lot about what that looks like and at the end of their experiences they reflect, feel appreciated for their hard work and develop empathy for others who are not as fortunate. As part of this, “For two of the six days on site the team participated in the Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNAP) – a program that subsidizes a family’s money for food based on their income. To match that, students were allowed $4.00 a day to spend for food for their three meals. The SNAP challenge was to stay within their limit.
Trip leader Kalyn DaSilva, in her senior year, reflected on the ASB trips she has taken over the past three years; “I have gotten something different every year. The first two years we went to Alabama which was completely different than this year going to North Carolina. “This year was different with the SNAP program, and with building a house. The work was a lot harder. I really just love the Alternative Spring Break program; everyone should try to get involved in it while they are at Pierce.”
A Student’s Perspective
Hannah Schwack-Trovitch ‘21, shares an account of her ASB experience:
“Over my spring break, instead of going home, I chose to participate in the Franklin Pierce University Alternative Spring Break (ASB). We traveled down to North Carolina and stayed at the Habitat for Humanity bunkhouse in Avery County. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that takes volunteers to help build stable homes for those who are less fortunate. ASB provides Franklin Pierce students the opportunity to help others through volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and as part of this particular ASB, to gain perspective on how people who rely on food stamps endeavor to buy daily meals by participating in the SNAP Challenge. The SNAP challenge had us experience living off $4.00 a day, the average food stamp allotment in this area of North Carolina.
Many people asked me before this trip, “Why would I give up seeing my family for this?” Alternatively, even asking, “Are you crazy living off of $4.00 a day on your spring break?” Yet, I, and the others girls on the trip, felt that helping others is what fed us.
This trip changed how we saw others and made us more eager and hungry to help even more. You would think living off $4.00 a day and working on building a house is impossible for an individual, but we conquered the challenge. It was an interesting experience trying to plan ahead on our meals, then after entering the grocery store seeing how expensive things were having to put items back and prioritize what is more important.
On top of helping others and experiencing ourselves, we also got the opportunity to drive up Grandfather Mountain as well as take a tour of the Biltmore Estate both attractions in NC. Alternative Spring Break (ASB) was a great opportunity for me to help others hands on. I truly enjoyed getting to know others around our Franklin Pierce campus on a different scale. Helping others and seeing the outcome of my hands-on work warms my heart. I would recommend this trip to students on our campus that are looking to help others and experience something new. Prepare to have your life change and the way you think about others.”
View Slideshow; Courtesy of Michelle Bourassa
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