Alternative Fall Breaks 2013

During Fall Break in October 2013, students, faculty and staff visited five communities to perform service. They traveled to Hartshorne, Oklahoma, to do home repairs for homeowners; to Oklahoma City to work with the regional food bank; to San Antonio to engage in community development and youth education; and to Bridgeport, Texas, to work at a nonprofit animal sanctuary. A group also remained in Dallas to work at a women’s shelter.

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A chance to change lives

SanAntonio

The group after a long day of work at Haven for Hope in San Antonio.

An update from Sara Ann, a sophomore majoring in psychology and minoring in education who participated in the Alternative Breaks trip to San Antonio:

Our Alternative Breaks trip to San Antonio was one I’ll never forget. Although it was only a few days long, our group became friends almost instantly. And when you have friends doing service with you, the most mundane and repetitive tasks, like making PB&J sandwiches, can become a game of speed or a bonding moment. We had each other to make jokes and laugh with and to keep the energy going throughout long days of service.

The community service we did was meaningful and rewarding, but the biggest impact that the trip had on me was when we returned. As soon as we got back to Dallas, our faculty advisor from the trip pulled together a few Dallas chefs who would be willing to take Shiloh as their intern if he were able to come to Dallas; Shiloh is a funny and caring teenager who worked with us all day at a kitchen that feeds the homeless in San Antonio. It’s clear that Shiloh has a passion for learning and creating a future for himself. He attended cooking lessons while simultaneously taking online courses for school.

Surprisingly enough, Shiloh and his family are homeless. But, homelessness does not stop him from working toward his dreams. When we worked in the kitchen with him, we could all see the ambition he had to make his life better. Now, Shiloh is scheduled to come to Dallas in December, where all of his travel and lodging will be covered and he’ll have the opportunity to learn from some of the most well-known and successful chefs in the Dallas area. If all goes well, he will be able to build an impressive resume, be considered for scholarships, become closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a chef, and be reunited with our Alternative Breaks group.

When I heard that this was actually going to happen, I couldn’t believe it. Our faculty advisor from the trip, Mark Melton, a professor at SMU, was going to singlehandedly change another person’s life. I am truly inspired by what Mark has arranged and it has made me think about what I can do and the difference I can make, even though I’m just a college student.

And this is why I think Alternative Breaks is so important. The organization introduces you to people who will inspire you and change your life. I’m happy to say that my love for Alternative Breaks will continue as I am blessed to be participating in a trip to St. Louis during this coming Spring Break. If you have never been on an Alternative Breaks trip, I strongly encourage you to do so, because you never know who you will meet and whose lives you’ll change.

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