Where the Heart Is
When the Obama administration placed Dickinson on the president’s 2012 Higher-Education Service Honor Roll, it confirmed a long-held conviction: Dickinsonians are committed to helping others. That was clear last year, when students performed countless acts of service through athletics teams and student organizations and logged in 36,820 hours of work through the Office of Religious Life & Community Service. And it’s clear this week, too, as more than 60 students and administrators return to campus from a spring break devoted to providing homes for those in need.
Some volunteers traveled to Henagar, Ala., to repair a home ravaged by a 2011 tornado. Others helped build a house for a disabled resident of Greenwood, S.C. Volunteers also visited New Orleans, La., where they helped fix homes requiring repairs as a result of contractor fraud or funding snafus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Notably, it was the 10th Gulf-Coast service trip by Dickinson students since the 2006 disaster. [Story continues below.]
Three-time service-trip veteran Christina Mullen’12 served as student leader during this spring's excursion to New Orleans. She notes that nontraditional spring breaks such as these are transformative not only for the homeowners they benefit, but for the volunteers, as well.
“It was so exciting to see so many participants [learn] the value of—and develop a passion for—service,” Mullen said, adding that she enjoyed leading evening discussions throughout the week so all volunteers could reflect on what they'd experienced.
Asked to sum up the trip, a fellow student agreed, writing: “I have to admit that I was ignorant about poverty, and too [enmeshed] in my own life. That has changed.”
By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Photos courtesy of student volunteers
Read about another alternative spring break, this one melding Judaism and sustainability.