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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Alternative Spring Break Outreach

    When one thinks about spring break, the first image that usually comes to mind are visions of thousands of under-aged, under-dressed, and overly drunk college students living la vida loca in locations, which include South Beach, Tampa, Cancun, and the Bahamas. This may be the case for most, but not for a small group of Stony Brook students who are getting involved in this upcoming Alternative Spring Break Outreach (ASBO).

    This year, students will be traveling to New Orleans, LA with intentions of helping those in need that were affected by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. SBU students will be traveling to New Orleans the week of April 1 to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge program. During their spring break, instead of going to a beach or tourist destination, they have chosen to participate in an ‘immersion’ experience of community service.

    The Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge program began in 1989 and has grown into one of the largest year-round alternative break programs in the United States and Canada. Participants spend one week working in partnership with the local community, affiliates, and partner families to help eliminate poverty housing in the area.

    ASBO is a student-developed, student-run community service organization whose mission is to promote critical thinking, social action and civic engagement for a lifetime by combining education, reflection and direct service on the local, regional, national and international levels. ASBO trains and engrosses students in a purposeful service experience designed to connect students and community members while enhancing growth, mutual awareness and life-long learning.

    Alternative Spring Break Outreach was developed in 2005-2006 by students out of the SBU Annual Student/Faculty/Staff retreat and through the lens of the 2006 Year of Community’s theme of ‘Giving.’ In realizing the need for SBU to get involved with giving back to the community, a select group of students began to work meticulously to create an alternative break program to benefit communities in need while building a spirit and tradition of giving within the University.

    The group will be staying at Camp Hope, a brand new volunteer center built for groups helping to rebuild New Orleans. The site accommodates up to 300 people with full showering, sleeping, and eating facilities.

    In a recent interview with local New Orleaner, Grant Rachel, he commented on the efforts and achievements of ASBO. He stated that, ‘it was a blessing, not just from New Yorkers, but from the entire nation to come together and ‘pick up the slack’ where our Federal Government failed to do so.’

    Obviously, feelings and trust are still affected by the lack of motivation and response portrayed by all levels of our government.

    At least 1,836 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest US hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 USD) in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in US history. Criticism of the federal, state and local governments’ reaction to the storm was widespread and resulted in an investigation by the United States Congress and the resignation of FEMA director Michael Brown.

    To make this trip possible, students need to raise $30,000 for their direct contribution to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, for food and for travel. As of now, Habitat for Humanity will be providing all of their lunches while in New Orleans. The participation fee will cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the most of the week. Some dinners may be provided by the local Tulane and Loyola Universities. Students will need money for the 26-hour bus ride to New Orleans and home. Other meals may take place in the local area and will require personal funds. It is suggested that participants bring some pocket cash for evenings out in the French Quarter.

    Members of Alternative Spring Break Outreach have not only touched the lives of many victims in New Orleans, but have touched and perhaps found a little something more about their own lives, too.

    For more information about Alternative Spring Break Outreach or to make a donation, please contact Rosie Scavuzzo in the Office of the Dean of Students located in the Student Activities Center, Suite 222.

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