UM-Flint’s Alternative Spring Break Program Continues to Expand

The University of Michigan-Flint’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program enables students to learn about issues such as homelessness, poverty, hunger, violence, environmental issues, and complex social and cultural issues. Students listen to and understand community needs and continue a commitment to community service and social change. 2012 was the most successful year since the program began in terms of numbers of participants, sites, volunteer hours, etc. This year, instead of travelling to other areas to volunteer, the ASB board decided to stay back and serve with the Flint community. The focus areas included: education, homelessness and hunger, urban gardening, urban renewal, veterans, and underprivileged children.

At the sites this year, the participants impacted the community in various ways. Regardless if it was reading to elementary students in an inner city school, helping renovate a home for homeless veterans, or working in urban gardens, the participants made an enormous impact. Through the different sites, the participants were able to see different parts of the Flint community that needed help and many of them decided to continue their volunteer efforts after the week was over.


This year, our students donated their time at Alternative Veterans Solutions, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, Carriage Town Ministries, Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary School, Flint River Farm, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, Salem Housing and Whaley Children’s Center. We had 69 individual students volunteer throughout the week of spring break, for a total of 211 service days. At 5 hours per day, the students donated approximately 1,055 hours throughout the week. According to the Independent Sector, these hours can be billed at $21.79 per hour for $22,988.45 worth of service. The University of Michigan-Flint students once again made colossal impact on the Flint community and beyond!

The one site that stuck out this year was the Alternative Veterans Solutions. The “Alternative Veterans Solutions was founded in 2010 on the belief that all veterans deserve to be honored and supported upon their return home from active duty. Our focus is to assist homeless veterans and those at-risk of becoming homeless by providing basic amenities and helping to connect those individuals with the training, education, counseling and rehabilitative services that they need. Alternative Veterans Solutions partners with federal, state and local agencies to offer a full range of services to area veterans. Together, we are working to break the cycle of homelessness while eliminating the barriers that veterans face in re-adjusting to civilian life.” For more information, please click on the following link: Alternative Veterans Solutions

Tredel Kennedy and Tina Harris are from the Flint area have devoted their lives to Alternative Veterans Solutions. They purchased a house on the Northwest side of Flint, and are currently re-modeling this house for homeless veterans. They have come to a standstill due to funding which is delaying the house from opening. The house is a 5 level house that can house up to 7 homeless veterans at a time. This project will help veterans get back on their feet, by offering them a stable place to live up to 18 months to get the ball rolling for them. Services will include building resumes, offering them school alternatives, finding jobs and offering them benefits that they might not concentrate on because of not having a home to live in.

We were able to work with Tredel and Tina to make their dream come true! Brandon Boone (ASB student and a student veteran here at the University of Michigan-Flint) made this project his personal mission to make this program work. Brandon and Bradley (Brandon’s brother) went to Michigan Works/Career Alliance work force development on day two of ASB and they spoke on a panel and stressed the issue of the transitional process for veterans coming home from active duty. This issue was seriously considered and they are working to acquiring 2,000 square feet of space from the Habitat of Humanity for a veterans center. They eventually hope to open a Veterans center open to the veterans and their families. The Student Veterans of America-Flint Chapter (SVA) is helping finish the project in hopes of meeting their deadline of opening in June. SVA will be conducting a house warming party, where community members can bring house items to the home from furniture, cloths and dishes. Also, they will be holding a spring clean-up, where Greek society members will be partnering with SVA in the landscaping of the house before the house opens to the 7 homeless veterans.