Leaders: Dani Gazibara '04 and Juanita Newton '04 Our spring Alternative Break trip traveled to Tucson, Arizona and the border communities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico. During the first week, our group worked with a wide range of organizations in the Tucson area. Specifically, we spent most of our time in South Tucson, a mile square community south of downtown Tucson with significant poverty. We worked with the Primavera Foundation, which provides a wide range of serves to the homeless population of Tucson, from referrals to shelters to transitional housing. One morning we awoke at 3 AM to cook 100 homeless men breakfast at one of their shelters; another day the females of the group did yard work and assisted with meals at their unique women's shelter. Another significant part of this first week was our work with Project Yes, an after-school program primarily focused on working with children for whom English was a second-language. The participants gave the kids one-on-one tutoring and also played various educational games with them. This first wee k we also worked with the Tucson Community Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity Tucson. During our second week, we worked with Habitat for Humanity in Nogales. The work was intense and involved shoveling buckets of dirt for a house's foundation and carrying blocks up steep hills. However, we had the unparalleled opportunity to really become part of a community few American tourists even glimpse and see how stark the contrast in standard of living is when one crosses a border. During both weeks, we learned a great deal about the politics, economics, and human rights issues affecting border communities and the way they impact everyone living there.
Leaders: Arjun Guha '06 and Sarah Johnson '06 Our trip to North Philadelphia was intense, fun and rewarding. The ten of us were crammed into one small room in the Catholic Worker house for two weeks, yet we got along brilliantly. We spent most of our days painting, cleaning and maintaining the house and a nearby shelter for women. We distributed food and supplies to the neighborhood. The highlight of our trip was working and playing with the elementary children in the Catholic Worker's after-school program. We were one-on-one with the kids, doing homework, going to the park, or just talking about their lives and ours. The poverty of North Philadelphia was a striking contrast to the richer parts of the city. The children struggled to maintain normalcy in their lives; they all came from broken families and attended under funded inner-city schools. They certainly loved having us around and were sorry to see us go, as were we. We had a great time and many of us intend to remain in touch and maintain the relationships we formed during our visit.
New York City, New York
Leaders: Laura Mason-Marshall '06 and Matt Cleinman '06 The New York trip focused on homeless and hunger issues. During the first week, mornings were spent at St. John's Bread and Life, Brooklyn's largest soup kitchen. They also run a food pantry and other services, so we helped them with a range of tasks. Primarily we were working in the kitchen and pantry, however. When things got slow at St. John's, we would head over to the school across the street and tutored. The afternoons of that week were spent with Women in Need, a large organization with many homeless shelters. We worked at two of their after school programs at different sites, five of us at each. One of the sites went on a field trip to the circus that Thursday, and we got to accompany them. We were staying at the Biko Center, an Episcopalian Monastery in Brooklyn, so we did some work at the center and in the nearby community garden on Monday of the second week. We spent Tuesday through Thursday of that week at St. Joseph Catholic Worker House, helping to prepare and serve lunch, as well as assisting with general house maintenance. At the house, we were working with a Grinnell alum from the 1980, who was very enthusiastic about us working there. On Thursday afternoon and Friday, we helped Added Value build their 2.5 acre urban garden. (Specifically, we were planting flats, finishing the greenhouse, turning beds, and scooping compost.) Added Value employs local youth from a depressed section of Brooklyn to work on the garden, and pays them about 20% of the average area family's income. The program is nearly self-sufficient, as they sell what they grow. The group greatly enjoyed our experience, as we got a chance to work with many agencies and a large amount of homeless and hungry individuals. During reflections, it was clear that the work was challenging many assumptions group members' had about the homeless and how to best help others.
Leaders: Lauren Page '06 and Jessica Peltan '06 The Atlanta Alternative Break was an extremely successful trip. We worked with Haven House Hospice, Hands On Atlanta, and the Osborne Prevention Task Force mainly, as well as, Cool Girls Cool Scholars, Nicholas House, Hagar House, the children's museum. The Haven House Hospice was an intense experience, where we did administrative tasks, and visit patients. We also played games with patients in the Alzheimer's wing, which was an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. Hands On Atlanta, which delivers 3000 meals a day was also a very successful experience. The ten people on the trip were able to finish many meals very quickly. We had an amazing time seeing the results of our work immediately. The Osborne Prevention Task Force was a fascinating place where we were able to interact one-on-one with the community where we were staying. The other programs we participated were all children's programs where we got hands on experience with Atlanta children. All were extremely gratifying. The activities we d id, the people we met, and the group experience was something that none of the group would give up, and Atlanta was an amazing and interesting place to visit.
Gallup, New Mexico
Leaders: Laura Franz '04 and Helen Blodgett '04 We spent each weekday morning working on two construction projects in the Church Rock chapter of the Navajo reservation. Our first took us to a small community near Gallup where we helped build a skirt (an insulating base) around the trailer of a man who was unable, due to sickness, to work on his own house. Our second construction project took us further into the country, where we helped an elderly man lay a dirt floor and complete the roof to his ceremonial Hogan (a traditional Navajo dwelling). In the afternoons, we traveled to two middle schools on the reservation and held music workshops for the Century 21 after-school program, an activity organized through the National Indian Youth Leadership Project. On the weekend, we assisted Americorps VISTA volunteers in building hiking and mountain-biking trails. In addition to performing service, we had the opportunity to speak with a number of local leaders and organizers. We toured abandoned uranium mines on the reservation, visited the seat of tribal gov ernment at Window Rock, learned about the annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial, and made fry-bread.
Leaders: Jenne Beinart '06 and Margaret Toomey '06 Instead of going to Cancun for Spring break a group of nine students trekked off to blustery Boston for a two-week community service project. Although at times the trip was more like the "Real World Boston", it was an enjoyable experience which introduced seven first year students and three second year students to the lives and experiences of the impoverished, homeless, and those stricken with AIDS. The first week we worked with Community Servings, which serves meals to men, women, and children living with AIDS. Community Servings was a highlight of the trip and Fernando, a worker at community servings became a favorite of the group. We also worked at the Greater Boston Food Bank, Pine Street Inn (a homeless shelter), Saint Francis House (a homeless shelter), and the Grace Renaissance after School Program. The second week provided the group with new challenges as we worked with 33 inner city youth in the St. Stephens after school program. However, the challenge was well worth it as Liz and everyone at St. St ephens was great to work with and made it another favorite of the group. In addition to St. Stephens "Boston" volunteered at the Boston Rescue Mission and the Mission Park after School Program. However Alt. Break was not all work and no play, while in Boston the group went to Cambridge, Chinatown, Boston Harbor, the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston, Boston Common, and the Public Gardens where we met Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. While in Boston the group stayed with Grinnell Alum Fr. J.C. Woods ('75), his wife Elise Kinney and the Na, a playful black and white cat, in St. Paul Rectory. The group had a great time with J.C. and Elise and will always remember making s'mores in the fireplace and eating pizza with J.C. In the end "Real World Boston" became a real world success.
Taos, New Mexico
Leaders: Dan Brown '05 and Noah Siegler '06 We had an amazing trip to Taos, NM over spring break. The first week, we worked at Casa de Corazon, a residential treatment center for girls aged 12-16. Most of the girls had violence and/or drug problems and were referred to the center by parents, counselors, or through school. It was a wonderful opportunity to do manual labor and get to know the girls and staff. We had many different projects to work on while we were there. We weeded their yards and gardens, cleared an area that was going to be relandscaped, and reinforced walls in the center's "timeout room." We worked outside most of the day, but during lunch (Casa provided) and breaks, we hung out with the girls. On Friday, we all went on a hike to the Rio Grande gorge. It was a great bonding activity, and afterwards we all felt like we had really connected to the girls and staff. The second week we worked a day at a state-funded treatment center. Even though we just raked leaves, it was interesting to note the differences between that RTC and the privately funded Casa de Corazon. The next couple days, we helped around the church where we were staying. Steve Wiard, the pastor at El Pueblito United Methodist Church, runs a "Shared Table" every other Wednesday. They collect food from many different local places and pass it out to people in need. We helped prepare for the Shared Table on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we helped distribute the food. Steve was great to us, and we loved the experience of getting to see something that he is so passionate about. That afternoon, he brought us to another treatment center for 16-21 year olds, called "The Dream Tree Project." We talked to one of the co-founders for an hour and found out how they run their non-profit. On Thursday, our final day, we worked for Bob at "Tierra Lucero," a non-profit organic farm. We went to the pueblo and planted trees in the school yard. Overall, we had a wonderful time. Everyone we worked for were extremely generous. By spending our first week with a single place and the s econd week with various organizations, I feel that we got a good mix of knowing a specific organization fairly well, and then understanding just how non-profits work.
Leaders: David Wylie '06 and Kendra Banchy '06 Our group traveled to Miami, although we journeyed south to the rural communities of Homestead and Florida City. These southern Florida communities are rooted traditionally in agriculture, giving the area the nickname "winter vegetable basket of America". The omnipresence of large agricultural operations has attracted a huge population of primarily migrant farm workers, who are often undocumented and face exploitation and debt slavery. Our service projects focused on these crippling issues as well as homelessness and poverty, which are also pervasive in south Florida. For the first several days, we worked at a 300 bed homeless shelter called the Community Partnership for the Homeless. The facility boasts a success rate of almost 60 percent (in returning homeless people to self-sufficiency) and has become a national model. There, we worked with children in the Head Start program and prepared meals. Next, we worked at a transitional home for the homeless, doing painting. This type of facility houses peo ple after they leave shelters but before they become independent. During the second week we worked at Centro Campesino, a farm worker ministry devoted to improving farm workers' lives through housing opportunities, childrens' programs, and education. There, we tutored students working to earn a GED and planned after school activities for children of farm workers.