By Gary Ashley
This year, 67 students and staff participated in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) from February 26-March 4, 2017.
Through IMPACT Days and STAY-cation programs at the University of Michigan-Flint, participants engaged in local community service in the city of Flint. ASB worked with 9 community partners to provide service sties for participants addressing the social issues of homelessness/hunger, women’s advocacy, community wellness, urban renewal, poverty/public service, and education. This year, ASB also partnered with local community organizations including Weiss Advocacy, Salvation Army and more to provide on-site education sessions for participants. Based on the feedback received, taking students to sites instead of bringing speakers to campus proved to be a positive, powerful and eye opening experience. In addition to educational activities and service, STAY-cation participants spent the week immersing themselves in downtown Flint. While staying at the First Presbyterian Church of Flint, students ate at local restaurants and participated in group activities which allowed them to further enrich their ASB experience.
In addition to the traditional local ASB in Flint, 10 University of Michigan students and staff from the Dearborn and Flint campuses spent their week serving in Muskegon, MI as part of a multi-campus initiative made possible by a Bicentennial Grant. During the week, this group worked with Community Compass and the Muskegon/Oceana Community Action Partnership where they painted, organized, talked with the clients, and more! This unique opportunity allowed students from across the campuses to engage in meaningful community service, learn about another city, network with a diverse group of students, and create lifelong memories. Raquel E. from the Dearborn campus said “It is very powerful to meet people from the same university and that share the willingness to make something to help to improve this world”.