Students ready for Spring Break Service Trips
For more than 25 years, students at Creighton have taken spring break service trips all over the country to help others and to understand issues facing those less fortunate.
Next week, as part of the Creighton Center for Service and Justice’s Spring Break Service Trips program, 240 students will be heading to the Gulf Coast to continue their work with rebuilding following Katrina, tutoring in classrooms on Native American Reservations in South Dakota and Wyoming, repairing homes in West Virginia and Kentucky, serving in soup kitchens and shelters in Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Denver; in all 29 groups with 26 community host partners. One of those groups stays here in Omaha to partner with Siena/Francis House. Two other Creighton programs will send groups to California to work with migrant workers and South Dakota to help Native American children apply for Gates Millennium Scholarships to encourage them to attend college.
Creighton University student Matt DeNoncour caught up with current and past participants:
A month has passed since the end of Winter Break for Creighton, and already the brutally cold winter and weight of stressful classes are causing students to look forward to Spring Break. While many will flock to warmer climates or the warmth of home, over 200 volunteers will be spending their break helping others through the Spring Break Service Trip program.
Started by seven nursing students in 1983, the program has grown to more than 240 applicants this year. Volunteers have the opportunity to travel to over 30 different locations across the nation, ranging from helping homeless at the Sienna-Francis House in Omaha to rebuilding homes along the Gulf coast. Arts and Sciences senior Matt DeBoer, a service trip advocate as well as former coordinator and participant, puts the reach of the program into perspective:
“We have a lot of new sites this year. I guess we go as far north as Minnesota, as far south as bordering Texas and the Gulf Coast, Denver/Wyoming in the west, and West Virginia in the east.” Matt credits the Spring Break Service Trip program for keeping him at the university: <nat> “I was set on transferring my first semester, and I had some pretty good scholarships that would have gone to the wayside had I not stayed. So I fought it out for one more semester, went on a service trip program, and really found my passion here at Creighton. So I owe a debt of gratitude to the program.”
Volunteers have to pay for their opportunity to help others; however, thanks to fundraising, those costs are cut significantly. Arts and Sciences junior Mike McKenny is a service trip coordinator and a member of the auctioning committee in charge of silent auctions. His role is to call local businesses asking for donations. He explains how these fundraisers help volunteers pay for the trip:
“To send an individual it costs about $270, but for the participants we only charge them $180, and for coordinators it’s only $90. So to make up that additional money we have to do fundraising.”
So how are these service trip sites chosen? Kelly Orbik is a graduate student intern working in the Creighton Center for Student and Justice. Her main job is to work with the coordinators to ensure they are organized for the trip. She says while some of the sites are new, others have been in the program for multiple years:
“We’ve been going to some sites for a lot of years, for seven to ten years…We get contacts from other schools, Jesuit schools, who go and things like that. Usually we go back to a lot of sites that work really well, and we come up with new sites all the time.”
Orbik feels service trips are a great way to get involved with community service and meet new people:
“People are looking for community. They’ve done service in high school, and those were kind of their friends, or who they did that with. But when they come to Creighton, it’s sometimes hard to find your niche or to meet those people. So service trips is a condensed, 240 students who are really interested in that.” Volunteers will be participating in their Spring Break service trips the first week of March 2008.
There is more information for those interested in getting involved online at Creighton.edu and at the office for the Creighton Center for Service and Justice in the Kiewit Fitness Center.
For Creighton News, I’m Matt DeNoncour.