Mar 05, 2010 - Brandi Fleeks / Student Writer
For the week of March 14, otherwise known as Spring Break, 13 student volunteers, 3 student directors and 1 faculty advisor will eschew the usual vacation stomping grounds and head, instead, for Sacramento, where they will feed and build houses for the homeless.
Alternative Spring Break, an annual one-unit class offered by Youth Educational Services, lets students participate in a free, week-long community service trip.
This year, student volunteers are teaming up with Habitat For Humanity to build houses for Sacramento’s homeless population. They will also be volunteering to feed the homeless, while staying in accommodations provided by St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Nelson says the group chose Sacramento because of the status of its homeless population and to take advantage of the proximity to the state’s politicians. “Homelessness is a large problem there and they need help,” he says. “I also wanted to try and set up meeting with California representatives and bring forth some of our issues, like keeping programs like Y.E.S. alive.”
The program’s main emphasis is service learning, encouraging its volunteers to learn leadership skills by working to together to meet the needs of the community. It is open to all students who apply but there is a 17 volunteer limit, which means that it’s first come first served and not every applicant can be accepted.
“The trip offers a great opportunity to experience group cohesion,” says student director, Nick Nelson. “Working for the community is way to form strong bonds with people we’ve never met before.”
“I joined Y.E.S. because I wanted to know more about homelessness,” says student director Vedrana Radosavljevic. “I never had the opportunity to help before so I wanted to get involved.”
The trip is completely paid for by Y.E.S.’ volunteers’ efforts.
In addition to Alternative Spring Break, Y.E.S. also operates volunteer programs like North Coast Music Mentors, Art Recreation Theater and Puentes, which bridges the gap between the Latino and college community in Humboldt County.
Y.E.S. volunteers are recruited early in the fall or spring term for a semester long commitment to the program of their choice. For more information, visit http://studentaffairs.humboldt.edu/yes/index.php.