Spring Break service: Elon students volunteer with purpose in U.S., abroad

Highlights from this year include supporting Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief efforts in Texas

Dozens of students, faculty and staff volunteered in communities near and far through the Kernodle Center’s alternative break program during spring break.

Student take a break from volunteering to take in Columbia's waterfront views.
From March 17 through 24, the program saw 68 students and 14 faculty and staff advisers participate in seven programs, each with its own focus areas. Students traveled to Texas, Jamaica, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Dakota and Louisiana to participate in a range of service opportunities.

These programs provided an opportunity for students to meet a new group of friends, see a new place, and give their spring break a purpose.

Jesse Newman, a volunteer on the Criminal Justice program in Columbia, South Carolina, spent his week with a group that mentored youth in the South Carolina Juvenile Justice Department. The students toured several juvenile facilities that offered programs to the students such as welding, carpentry, and music.

Regardless of the offenses they had committed, these young people could still pursue their personal interests. Newman reinforced that the facility’s mindset was, “Your past is your past. It is time to move on.”

He saw the students making an effort to forgive themselves and move forward to becoming contributing members of society.

Students that traveled to Treasure Beach, Jamaica also worked with youth to promote education in rural areas. They collaborated with Sandy Bank Infant School, a local primary school, by coordinating classroom instruction and worked on a variety of projects including the creation of a community garden.

Elon students discovered how to disconnect from the digital world and fully immerse themselves in the Jamaican local culture. Dierdre Shivak, an education major at Elon, found the differences in our education systems to be intriguing.  “I could take what I was learning there and implement it here or vice versa,” says Shivak.

One of this year’s most timely trips was to Houston, Texas, to work on disaster relief by collaborating with international organization Community Collaborations to help with clean up and rebuild areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Student coordinator Ethan Kaufmann valued working on the four different homes of families who all shared such unique devastation stories. He shared that “we truly had an impact on their lives and we helped take a burden off their shoulders. Most of these homes were small and completely flooded, so our work made a huge impact on them getting to move back in.”