Alternative Spring Break: The Week That Lasts a Lifetime

While many people utilize the week of spring break as a chance to flee Michigan’s cold weather and soak up the sun somewhere else, a group of more than 70 students stayed in town to give back locally through University Outreach’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) March 4-8, volunteering more than 175 individual service days.

Each day during ASB is jam-packed full of awesome activities. In the morning, we started out with some energizers to get people pumped up and excited for getting out into the community. You can see some of our races below, and there’s some video here (which is pretty funny, and some serious competition).


Team one getting ready to race across the room attached by a saran wrap belt.


Team two getting ready to race!


Some of the team leaders getting ready to play Welded Ankle. We were champs, if I do say so myself. 🙂

After that, students had the chance to hear from an educational speaker before having lunch and going out into the community. Some of this year’s guests included Patrick McNeal from My Brother’s Keeper, Sergeant Bundy from UM-Flint’s Department of Public Safety, and Dr. Rosynsky and staff from the Ellen Bommarito LGBT Center and the Women’s Educational Center. It was great hearing from different campus and community representatives because the topics are so different. We learned about why our service is important, the importance of not drinking and driving (with a little fun mixed in to lighten the mood), and domestic and sexual assault and what resources we have available on campus. These speakers sparked great discussion among participants, which I thought was really cool.


After lunch, we all split up and headed to our organizations.  This year’s sites included:
Alternative Veterans Solutions
Flint River Farm
King Karate
Boys & Girls Club
Genesee County Land Bank
Salem Housing
North End Soup Kitchen
Habitat for Humanity

This year, I was the team leader for the North End Soup Kitchen (NESK) and I had a spectacular group of students each day helping prepare and serve food. Being at NESK for the week, we got to meet the amazing staff who work and volunteer at the soup kitchen and talk with some residents of Flint. I enjoyed this site because we got to interact with the people we were serving; it was really hands-on and an opportunity to meet with some great new people.

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On the last day of ASB, we celebrated our service and headed to Detroit. We got to go to a handful of places, which you can see below in our photos. We went to the Freedom House, had lunch at Evie’s, visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, stopped by the Detroit Hostel, had a super awesome tour of Comerica Park, and had dinner at Pub Rub.


This was my third time participating in ASB and my first time as a member of the planning board, and I really feel like each time is more rewarding. I think that this is a great opportunity for students to get out into our community and see what kind of a difference we can make here in our own backyard. It’s a great way to get involved, to meet people who are interested in giving back just like you, and to experience Flint in an entirely different way. We get to hear from these different organizations on the needs that they meet for the city of Flint and just what it means to them that we get involved, which is truly rewarding. I have had a blast participating in this experience each year and I definitely encourage students to check it out for next year!

PS. Check out our ASB experience last week and schools all over the country by searching #ASB2013 on Twitter.  There is all kinds of service going on this month!