By: Alicia Gallagher
When you hear the phrase Alternative Spring Break (ASB), what comes to mind? Most students at Fitchburg State have heard of ASB. When I asked a few of them what they thought it was, they’d say “helping people”, “building houses” or even “seeing indie bands during spring break”. While the latter may be a little off the mark, the others got the general idea. As Bre, the logistics lead for this year’s trip, describes it: “ASB is just like a bag of potato chips, after you try one you immediately want to go back for more”.
Bernadette, one of the current fundraising leads, defines this volunteer opportunity as “a community service trip where 22 students and 2 advisors ‘give up’ their spring break to go somewhere and work with Habitat for Humanity to help build houses”. During the year, you spend time “fundraising and spreading the word to the campus community”, as Alyce puts it. While it is true that ASB is working on houses and giving help to people who need it, Steven points out that “you’re not just helping build a house, you’re helping build a home”. When asked to describe the experience, many ASB participants stated it was indescribable, life changing, humbling, and rewarding. As someone who has experienced this trip, it has completely altered my point of view on the world, inspiring me to continue this work at home and throughout my life. When you come off the worksite, you want to do more and more to help people. It’s breathtaking to see the Future Homeowners working on their own houses, and facing the obstacles in their lives head on.
Not only does this trip do a lot of good working with Habitat, but it also brings together a group of 24 strangers. Cheyenne explains that “it feels great to help an organization that’s so much larger than you and make friends along the way”. You would never expect to get to know every single person who goes on this trip, but then you see the team come together as a family, after just a week. It is truly amazing that a bond is created among such a diverse group and is brought back to the Fitchburg State campus.
The challenging part isn’t building a roof or hammering into cement walls, it’s bringing this volunteer mentality back home. It’s easy to dedicate one week to helping those in need, but it takes discipline and commitment to keep it going throughout the rest of the year. The ASB team is working at “being the change you hope to see in the world” one step at a time.