Alternative Spring Break: Florida

My name is Alexis Bolduc, a senior here at PSU. I have been involved with Alternative Spring Break for three years and have coordinated trips to Fort Pierce and Jacksonville, FL. This year we drove to Jacksonville to work with Community Collaborations International, a nonprofit that helps out in different parts of the country with whatever needs to be worked on. This spring break was filled with a bunch of different projects ranging from beach cleanup to building an entire playground.

My group stayed in a Presbyterian church with a group from the Northwest Missouri State University and a team from AmeriCorps. It was a neat experience getting to know other volunteers who were working on the same projects as we were, and who also wanted to give back to the community. Every day we would switch off making breakfast and dinner and cleaning up afterward. We slept in one room with 23 other people, which was uncomfortable at first but everyone became really friendly and broke out of their shells a little bit.

In the week of volunteering we worked with HabiJax ReStore, a Jacksonville food bank, KaBoom!, and Little Talbot Island State Park staff. I think my team can all agree that working with KaBoom! and the Jacksonville food bank were the most rewarding experiences. At the food bank we made 528 bags for senior citizens who have a difficult time purchasing groceries and made over 7,000 meals within two and a half hours. With KaBoom! we built an entire playground for the  Boys and Girls Club from Arlington Community Academy Club. This project was neat because each team member was allowed to step up and be a leader to over 200 volunteers. Some of us put the playground pieces together; some made sandboxes, benches, and tables; and others planted trees and flowers. With both of these projects we were able to work directly with the local community.

Alternative Spring Break has been a huge part of my college career. I’ve learned how to be a leader, effectively multitask, strengthen my communication skills, and balance school and student organization commitments. I have met some of my best friends during these trips and created memories that will last a lifetime. I hope that when I graduate there will be more Plymouth students joining this student organization and getting out into their communities, volunteering, and giving back.