98 students participate in Alternative Winter Breaks

Fri, 02/01/2013

LAWRENCE — Ninety-eight students from the University of Kansas spent part of their winter breaks volunteering across the nation.

KU’s student-run Alternative Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that provide opportunities for students to include volunteer efforts in their educational experiences. KU Alternative Breaks places a strong emphasis on education and personal growth and encourages students to continue their service work beyond the break itself.

This winter, students worked with 14 different agencies in 11 different states ranging from chilly Michigan to sunny Florida. Students supported a variety of agencies’ efforts, including working with people with disabilities, preserving natural habitats and encouraging children to live healthy lifestyles. Each group volunteered for one week from Jan. 12 to Jan. 20.

Anna Hurst, a senior from Wichita, and Bailey Reimer, a senior from Shawnee, were the Alternative Winter Breaks co-directors. Hannah Sitz, a junior from Andover, and Katie Stites, a junior from Lawrence, serve as the current Alternative Break Directors. The Alternative Break faculty advisor is Sarah Crawford-Parker, and the Instructor of Record is Amanda Schwegler.

Following their admittance to the program, students attended weekly classes to prepare for their Alternative Winter Break sites. The classes provided more information about the role of a volunteer, how the nonprofit sector works, social justice issues and the importance of diversity and cultural awareness.

The program was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas, under the direction of Professor Glen White in partnership with KU students. Since 1995, it has expanded to include fall, winter, summer and weekend breaks.

An Alternative Winter Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program, and, if taken as a class, can count towards service learning certification. The program costs participants $275 ($225 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals.
To learn more, visit www.kualternativebreaks.com.

The Alternative Winter Break sites:

• Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary in Austin, Texas, offers a home to more than 300 rescued or unwanted animals and provides the community with a way to learn about them. Site leaders were Stacy Galway and Chris Rice.

• The Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency in Atlanta empowers the homeless in the Atlanta area by helping them achieve economic independence. Site leaders were Stephanie Higinbotham and Alyssa Ong.

• Big Bend National Park in Alpine, Texas, is one of the largest national parks in America, with more than 800,000 acres to explore. Site leaders were Drew Bennett and Mac Tamblyn.

• CASA in Huntsville, Ala., is an organization that provides services to homebound of all ages and community members over the age of 60 while committing to maintain individuals’ independence, dignity, health and safety. Site leaders were Jessica Mitchell and Steph Stoss.

• The Cumberland Trail in Chattanooga, Tenn., is an ambitious hiking trail project, and when completed will extend 300 miles from its northern end in the Cumberland Gap National Park (Kentucky) to its southern end just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Site leaders were Ali Fisher and Erin Ice.

• Florence Crittenton Services in Charlotte, N.C., helps girls and women make positive life choices by providing medical care; social, educational, adoption and parenting support services; and drug treatment and prevention to pregnant and at-risk girls and women. Site leaders were Shelby Stewart and Amelia Wilson.

• Freedom House in Detroit is a safe haven for global survivors of persecution that are seeking legal shelter in the United States. Site leaders were Shannon Buhler and Miranda Wagner.

• Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, Fla., is a place where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are given the chance to escape into a world full of splendor, whimsy, magic and hope. Site leaders were Isabella Herrera and Beth Schirmer.

• Humane Borders in Tucson, Ariz., provides humanitarian aid, most often in the form of food and water, to migrants crossing the treacherous desert of southern Arizona. Site leaders were Grant Berning and Jenny Curatola.

• Misericordia in Chicago, which means heart of mercy, provides a residential community for adults with developmental and physical disabilities to maximize their level of independence and self-determination. Site leaders were Ellie Eastes and Lisa Pettit.

• The New Mexico GLBTQ Center in Las Cruces, N.M., collaborates with GLBTQ allies and others in rural areas of New Mexico to reduce homophobia and enrich the lives of individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning through education, advocacy, support, example and collaboration. Site leaders were Hailey Lapin and Ashley Richard.

• Playworks in Denver is part of a national organization that promotes the health and well-being of children by increasing their opportunities for physical activity and meaningful play. Site leaders were Lindsey Bloom and Brandon Rogers.

• St. Leonard’s Ministries in Chicago provides services for those released from prison by providing comprehensive resources needed to help them rebuild their lives. Site leaders were Emily Bergman and Ciara Malone.

• Teach for America in Chicago trains and places teachers in low-income communities to work to ensure that all children, regardless of background, can receive an excellent education. Site leaders were David Catt and Jordan Perlmutter.


Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUstudents , today is the last day to receive a 90% refund on a dropped class. #AcademicDeadline
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times