A different kind of adventure: ISU Alternative Breaks program does good over Spring Break

Greek Students participated in an alternative spring break where they traveled to Indianapolis. They spent six days volunteering for non-profit organizations and touring various greek headquarters.

Blake Dowson

For the past seven years, the ISU Alternative Breaks program has been sending students across the country during Spring Break to participate in community service projects.

Students perform short-term projects for community agencies and learn about various social issues.

Regina Patterson, site leader for the ISU Alternative Break program, said she got involved with the program due to service trip experience in high school.

“I decided to get involved with the Greek Alternative Break program last year when I was a participant. This year, I wanted to make sure that other members of the greek community had the same experience that I did, so I decided to apply for the site leader position,” Patterson said.

Dana Schultz, a sophomore in marketing, also went on the trip.

“I decided to go on the Alternative Break because it was something different to do with my break. If I didn’t go on the Alternative Break, I would have just went home for a week and did nothing, so I saw this opportunity to do something more and something for others for a week,” Schultz said.

Patterson, Schultz and the rest of the greek participants spent the week in the Indianapolis, Ind. area. They volunteered at Jameson Camp, a summer camp for underprivileged children.

“We stayed in a cabin there throughout the week and thought it would be good to positively impact the place where we were staying,” Patterson said.

They also volunteered at the Indianapolis Humane Society and Horizon House, a full service day shelter that helps homeless people get back on their feet.

Patterson said that these trips are important for the volunteers, not just the people they are helping.

“Trips like these are important because it brings people together for a common cause. It helps us to appreciate the things we do have. It also helps us to realize that there is so much more to the world in which we live than just the small community of Iowa State,” she said.

Schultz echoed her thoughts.

“These trips are important because it gets people out of their comfort zone.  It gives you the chance to bond with people you have never met before.  It will also give you new chances to travel and new volunteering opportunities,” Schultz said.

Patterson said that the trip taught her not to take anything for granted.

“Many of the homeless neighbors that we helped are college-educated. Any one of us could be put in that situation some day,” Patterson said.

Schultz said that it was good to get away from everything for a while.

“During the school year, I get busy and really focus on what I need to do, so for the Alternative Break, it was nice to wake up every morning and know that you were going to help others. I hope to incorporate that more while I’m back in Ames and to still have a service purpose every day,” she said.

Other Alternative Breaks locations have included South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Alabama.

The Alternative Break program stresses a series of eight critical components that are necessary to make each trip a success.

These include a strong direct service, as well as diversity within the group.

Students should be oriented as to what the mission is, and should be educated on each service they provide. Participants should also be adequately trained in the skills necessary to carry out tasks and projects during the trip.