'Tis the season to give, and a number of University of Rochester community members are getting into the holiday spirit by donating their time and energy to help the community.
Through the University's Alternative Break Program, faculty, students, and staff will help out in Keeseville, N.Y., January 13-20. In Keeseville, a small town located approximately 15 miles south of Plattsburgh, participants will visit with the elderly, work with disabled adults, organize projects with local high school students, and engage in recreational activities with the residents.
The Keeseville trip began two years ago when Capt. Ralph Martin, formerly of the University's ROTC unit, saw a need for volunteer help in his hometown, which was suffering an economic downturn. He invited Rochester students to help out.
The University's Alternative Break Program, now in its fifth year, is a chapter of the national Break Away Program. Participants spend various breaks in the University calendar in locations around the country engaged in community service and experimental learning. Organized through the University's Community Service Network, the projects bring together faculty, students and staff to help out in areas of need.
The Alternative Break Program is just one of seven continuous community service projects the University is involved with through Community Service Network. Ongoing campus programs include Little Buddies, Adopt-a-Grandparent, Habitat for Humanity, Compeer, tutoring, and Partners in Reading. This year, the Friends of Strong dove sale and the Salvation Army holiday bell-ringing fundraiser have been added to the list.
Spring break plans under way
In addition to the winter break trip, several trips are being planned for Alternative Spring Break. All trips will take place March 9-17; costs will vary.
One group will return to Keeseville. Others will work in Miami with Habitat for Humanity, Arizona with the Navajo and Hopi Nations, and Oshuweckan, Ontario, Canada, with the Iroquois Six Nations Reserve. Those wishing to stay in the Rochester area can become involved with programs planned with Flower City Habitat for Humanity.
Tentative plans are in the works for an additional trip to Montana, where the group will work with the Crow Nation.
University faculty and students have spent past breaks helping out in Arizona, Boston, Baltimore, Canada, Chicago, Florida, Keeseville, and Rochester. During a 1993 trip to Florida, 14 students worked with Habitat for Humanity to build and repair homes in areas ravaged by Hurricane Andrew. In 1994, 14 students headed west to assist at the Native American Baha'i Institute located on the Navajo reservation in Arizona.