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Members of Northwest's Alternative Spring Break organization worked on a series of repair projects this year at North Carolina homes damaged by Hurricane Florence. (Submitted photos)

Members of Northwest's Alternative Spring Break organization worked on a series of repair projects this year at North Carolina homes damaged by Hurricane Florence. (Submitted photos)

April 9, 2019

Students venture to east coast to help hurricane victims during Alternative Spring Break

By Tara Garcia, communication assistant


Students worked in homes, ripping up damaged floors, prepping walls for resurfacing, and putting up drywall for walls and ceilings.

Students worked in homes, ripping up damaged floors, prepping walls for resurfacing, and putting up drywall for walls and ceilings.

Twenty Northwest Missouri State University students traveled March 24-29 to Wilmington, North Carolina, where they assisted with relief efforts and home restorations after Hurricane Florence.

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is an immersion program that places teams of college students in diverse cultures and communities to engage in community service and experiential learning during spring break. The group also explores issues of social justice, economic disparity and community outreach while developing critical thinking and leadership skills.

This year’s group spent their days at project sites and homes, ripping up damaged floors, prepping walls for resurfacing, and putting up drywall for walls and ceilings. Some houses had to be gutted due to the damage from the hurricane.

“Many of the homes that were being worked on by our ASB group were homes of people with no insurance, or insurance with very little coverage,” Jessica Bloustine, a senior chemistry major from Harrisonville, Missouri, and the Northwest ASB chapter president, said. “It makes my heart soar to see everyone working hard and having fun, even though the work could be tiresome and frustrating.”

ASB gives students the opportunity to travel and make an impact in different communities. ASB allows students to develop new skills and expand their network.

“Volunteering helps students develop leadership, communication and problem-solving skills,” Bloustine said. “I think students should at least give ASB a try because you create lifelong friends and memories that you will never forget on these trips. That’s what makes all the work worth it.”

Brittany Stegeman, the complex director of Hudson and Perrin halls, accompanied the group and says the organization provides a great opportunity for students to do something different during spring break. She enjoyed watching the interactions of students and the interpersonal relationships they built.

“For me, it was most enjoyable being able to step back and watch the students grow,” Stegeman said. “ASB is an incredible organization and the mission they have to give back and help rebuild communities is amazing. I would encourage anyone to look at being a part of that.”

Cassidy Layman, a senior biology major from Richmond, Missouri, says her favorite part of the experience was getting to know and working with everyone involved.

“It was awesome to see how much we helped a family out in just one week,” she said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have insurance, and without the help of others, they would still be out of their home. I encourage students to participate in ASB because volunteering is important and it’s good for your soul. It makes you take a step back and not focus solely on yourself.”

Elizabeth Skelly, a freshman nanoscale chemistry major, added, “My favorite part of the trip this year was seeing the progress we made. Knowing we were working on a project that will help get someone back into their home after being displaced since September was just a really cool feeling. I also really enjoyed getting to know everyone in ASB and making new friends that I will have for a long time. I learned how to work with a team of people I didn't know very well, which was really beneficial.”

John Dolinar, a junior business management major from Shawnee, Kansas, enjoyed making friendships throughout the trip and helping people who faced hard times.

“The most beneficial thing I learned during the trip was that people don’t forget about the struggling, displaced people after a disaster,” he said. “I learned how to hang sheet rock and that will be a valuable skill. I think students should join ASB to gain the perspective of helping others and knowing that one person, or a few people, can really make the difference in someone's life.”

Founded at Northwest in 2006, ASB annually gives students the opportunity to participate in a week of service-learning and volunteering within a different environment than their own. The goal is to provide individuals with service learning opportunities while positively influencing others’ lives. In recent years, Northwest students have traveled with ASB to Washington, D.C.; New York City; New Orleans; Jacksonville, Florida; as well as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468