Though most students have returned to campus from coastal vacation spots, snowy ski mountains or the comfort of their own homes, some students have returned from spring break from spots in the country where they engaged in community service projects for the entirety of the week. These students dedicated their time to serving others in different locations in the country through UNH’s Alternative Break Challenge (ABC).
This student organization allows for members to spend their spring break vacation traveling to a new location and serving the community they are in.
The program offers trips working with Habitat for Humanity, trail maintenance and inner city youth. Locations for these projects ranged from places such as Battlecreek, Michigan, to Cumberland Island, Georgia. According to ABC President and senior therapeutic recreation major Hannah Cashin, the organization is made up of 80 participants and 20 leaders for a total of 100 students engaging in these community service projects.
“ABC participants are afforded the opportunity to make a real difference in whatever community they travel to. They can come back from spring break and feel good about the way that they spent the week,” Cashin said.
Cashin went on to say that each participant was able to make a difference in his or her own way. Habitat for Humanity trips were able to build safe and affordable homes for people living in the area that they were working in, students participating in trail maintenance were able to clean up trails in state parks and on the Appalachian Trail in a sustainable manner and students working with inner city youth helped enhance after-school programs for the children.
ABC also allows for participants to travel, gain experience and make new friends through the program.
“ABC offers students an opportunity for personal growth and leadership skills [and]…There is no better way to bond with a group of people than to cram into a couple of mini vans and drive cross-country,” Cashin said.
Abby Geremia, a senior leader of a trail maintenance trip, holds a similar mindset regarding ABC trips.
“As a whole, my experiences with ABC have been some of my favorite experiences with UNH,” Geremia said, “and the memories, impacts and relationships have been really meaningful to me.”
Emily Perry, a sophomore participant on a trail maintenance trip to Dahlonega, Georgia, stated that she had a great time on the trip.
“The group of UNH students that I went on the trip were amazing and we really worked well together…. Being able to go into this trip not knowing anyone and coming out of it as a group of close friends is an experience I’ll never forget,” Perry said. Perry also said that she enjoyed getting to know the members of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club while working on the Appalachian Trail and hearing about their life stories.
“Students should participate in ABC because you get to travel, see new places, meet new people and make a difference instead of spending all of your hard earned money to come back from a traditional spring break vacation with a sunburn and an empty wallet,” Cashin said.