Each year almost thirty five percent (35%) of the student population that applies and enrolls comes with experience and interest in continuing to work in the area of Community Service. Recently a number of Anna Maria College students along with the Director and Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Manuel Clavijo and Melissa LaNeve, spent the week of March 4th through March 10th in Houston, Texas for our annual Alternative Spring Break service trip. This trip was done in collaboration with Vacations that Give, an organization run by the Sisters of St. Anne, as well as the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The team was able to help serve families from the Archdiocese in Houston whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
One group of students worked on the inside of a family of four’s home. They completed all new insulating and dry walling around the lower half of every room, which was needed due to the damage left by the flooding. The second group of students worked underneath another home - adding insulation and styrofoam between the joists to help with temperature control after it had been raised four feet off the ground to prevent further flood damage.
A special part of this week was being able to spend time with members of the family in a second home. The mother and her 20 year old son exemplified generosity by giving from the little they had to make sure our team was well cared for. The son spent the full week working with the Anna Maria students helping renovate the damaged home. It was impressive to see the amount of work that was accomplished by all in such a short amount of time.
Additional highlights for the team included a reflection each night that centered on the theme of “gratitude.” Insights included the importance of living in the moment and disconnecting from our phones in order to be more present with those around us, and to appreciate the struggles as they often show us the areas we need to grow most. As the week came to a close, it was mentioned the group reflected on the hard work and more importantly the close relationships among the team members, with the families, with oneself, and with God.
Overall, the 2018 Alternative Spring Break trip was a profound, impactful, and fruitful experience for all. Each participant returned to campus changed for the better and ready to bring even more change to their community back home. Anna Maria students often volunteer over 5,000 hours of service each year. The work and commitment reflects the mission of Anna Maria - a college that educates students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals.
Participants included: Matthew Braz ‘20, Elizabeth Casella ’18, Sarah Coley ’19, Emily Hawley ’19, Kaylee Marshall ’19 (Student Leader), Kennedy Mastriani ’21, Kayla McBrien ’19, Patrick McKenna ’19 (Student Leader), Matthew Mitera ’18, Kayla Pearson ’21, Opal Powers ’21, Bryanna Tobin ‘18