Alternative Spring Break Team Recognized for Work

Posted: April 21, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

When 12 George Mason students left for New York to participate in the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program in March, they all agreed on one thing: “We wanted to make a difference,” says student Danielle Callender. The group accomplished its goal, as it became the first team in the 10-year history of the ASB program to be invited back because of its work. Eight of the students will be returning this weekend.

While in New York, the group performed between 400 and 500 hours of community service with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Inc., including painting a cafeteria, cooking and serving food, and interacting with AIDS victims on a regular basis. Gay Men’s Health Crisis will honor the students with a permanent display of their poems, paintings, and reflective journals of their spring break experience. This is also the first time in the history of Gay Men’s Health Crisis that it has invited a spring break team from any school back to its board of directors annual recognition ceremony.

In a letter sent to team leaders Brad Blankenship and Abby Neyenhouse, Gay Men’s Health Crisis volunteer coordinator Derreth Duncan says, “I cannot send you and your incredible GMU team a standard thank you for the work that you did while you were here. The number of hours and the multiplicity of tasks do not touch the significance of your visit.”

“Everything I have learned in school doesn’t compare to the hands-on experience I got from this trip,” says Callendar. “What we did shouldn’t be called community service because it had such a large impact on both sides. It was something we wanted to do.”

ASB, sponsored by the Center for Service and Leadership, provides the opportunity for teams of students to engage in service with communities facing complex social issues such as discrimination, inadequate housing, hunger, and poverty. By providing needed services, team members learn from the people and organizations they encounter and gain a broader understanding of the world.

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