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Alternative Spring Break Trips

Bresee Foundation

Dates of Travel:  March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: Over 25% of Los Angeles' gang-related crimes occurs within the three police divisions located in Bresee Foundation’s service area, located in Downtown LA. Youth in this community are at high risk of victimization as a result. Some join gangs in a misguided attempt to secure protection from violence while addressing their sense of powerlessness.

The fact remains that California has a problem with its juvenile justice system. Among larger states, California consistently has had the highest youth incarceration rate, with more than double the national average youth incarceration rate, which critics decry for contributing to chronic overcrowding, unsafe conditions, poor health services, and numerous related problems, including gang violence.

What to do these statistics do? They motivate us. Of all age groups, youth have the highest portion of persons in poverty. By participating in a youth empowerment program in this area, keeping in mind incarceration rates and gang activity, we hope to help both at-risk youth and other children look forward to a productive future where they can actually achieve and live their hopes and dreams. Youth empowerment helps these individuals set goals and make a plan to succeed in what they most desire. Most of all, youth empowerment helps provide our youth with practical skills that they can use each and every day of their lives to enjoy a greater quality of life and become tomorrow’s leaders.

The Alternative Break trip to California will explore the culture of the massive, dynamic city of L.A. Participants will see how society views juvenile offenders, and will learn about the realities of the California Juvenile Justice System. The trip will focus primarily on at-risk
 youth in LA, considering education, gang-violence and immigration. The group will be introduced to a number of service sites, including Bresee Foundation, an organization that serves at-risk youth and provides gang intervention. Every morning, before our volunteering at Breesee, we will incorporate speakers and site visits that prompt participants to draw connections between social issues and policy, while considering their experience in the context of their academic and personal studies. Our morning visits will be to organizations like Sunrise Outreach Clinic, a Juvenile Hall Visit, a look into the Probation System by meeting with representatives from the department, and more.

Lodging: Local church, participants provided with sleeping mats


Transportation:  Air

Cost: $650


Volunteer of America

Dates of Travel:  March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: “Dedicated to revolutionizing health care delivery by replacing greed and competition with generosity, compassion and interdependence,” Patch Adams, MD has had the vision of creating the Gesundheit! Institute, a holistic healthcare institution that believes in helping each individual grow. They believe that health is not about a number or a formula, but about nourishing a person's mind, body, and soul while administering medical care. In its 40-year history, Gesundheit has offered care to tens of thousands, given workshops and lectures in over 65 countries, built and supported clinics, schools and orphanages from El-Salvador to Cambodia, and brought the joy of clowning to parts of the world damaged by violence and injustice. The Gesundheit! Institute aims to fully integrate medicine with performing arts, arts and crafts, agriculture, nature, education, recreation and social service, as essenial parts of health care delivery.

Lodging: Patch Adams Dacha Staff House



Transportation:  Mini-Vans

Cost:  $400




St. Alemilian

Dates of Travel: March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: This trip will focus on the intricacies of the foster care system and will work to bring to the forefront issues faced by foster children. We will discuss educational and economic viability in the tumultuous environments of foster agencies, and the circumstances that make the system necessary in the first place. This trip will work to reveal the complexities of the issue that are not typically represented in the media or to the general public.

Many children, due to abuse, neglect and other problems, are forced out of their homes and left to depend on society to help meet their basic needs. We will be traveling to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to work with St. Aemilian-Lakeside and give them a helping hand. As many as 100 children, infants to 17 year olds, are removed from their homes in Milwaukee County each month due to unsafe conditions. St. Aemilian-Lakeside takes a holistic approach to foster care, constantly working to better the lives of individuals who find themselves in this stressful situation. We will be working with three agencies directed by St. Aemilian-Lakeside: Independent Living Services, which works with youth who have aged out of foster care; Integrated Family Services, which helps prevent at-risk families from entering the system; and Trauma Informed Care, which utilizes knowledge of neuroscience to create informed therapy for foster children. Over this week long adventure, we will get to work with counselors to help provide numerous services to families, cook dinner alongside foster children, and so much more.

This is a unique opportunity to work with the foster care system and with an exceptional organization. Additionally, we will take time to explore Milwaukee and its neighboring cities' local culture. We plan on visiting Milwaukee’s RiverWalk and plenty of other local sites (which will be kept a secret until the trip!) during downtime.

Lodging: Hotel


Transportation: Mini-Vans

Cost: $350

Community Collaborations International

Dates of Travel:  March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: Head Start New Orleans is a trip that primarily focuses on the youth affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Our mission is to go in and work with affected preschool children from low income families. We will be spending our time in New Orleans reaching out and interacting with kids who otherwise would not have opportunities that we may be presenting to them. These children suffer through displacement and loss, and are in need of extra support. Early Childhood Education states that these are children who are less likely to finish high school and more likely to succumb to drugs and alcohol. We will be a strong group of students, going in as role models to teach, play, and help children feel a sense of community. Our hope is in our time there we will be able to bring inspiration and joy through education to these small kids.

Research suggests that a significant proportion of children and adolescents who have experienced a natural disaster exhibit significant mental health symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. It is also proven that these children who are affected are better off when non affected adults come in to work with them in hopes of altering the effects. When examining children (ages 8 –12) at several time points post-hurricane, researchers found that 30% of children reported severe or very severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. It is our hope that when going to New Orleans, even in a short period of time, we can bring some fun and life lasting memories to these kids.

The primary purpose of our project is to asses the needs of the children we are going to be working with and based on those needs, address them properly. To better understand the needs of youth in the community after Hurricane Katrina, officials in St. Bernard Parish, LA, commissioned a Youth Needs Assessment Survey. We, as volunteers, will look at the survey to help us understand just how bad the effects of the hurricane have been on the community with which we are working, and to be able to better understand our mission there. The vast majority of these children, even all these years later, are still struggling greatly and without the support of members of the greater community, could continue to struggle for years to come.


Transportation:  Mini-Vans

Cost:  $400


Dates of Travel:  March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: The Dominican Republic is a nation of resilience. Despite the country’s history of government corruption and the resulting infrastructure, the vibrancy of the citizens remains strong. Progress has been made throughout the years, especially in the education sector. As volunteers participating in the Outreach360 program, we will be part of the progress. Outreach360 in Monte Cristi works year-round to supply volunteers to teach the English language at local Dominican schools. Since tourism is one of the largest industries of the Dominican Republic, a knowledge of the English language is crucial to job placement.

The students range from the preschool to high school age group, depending on the class the volunteers are assigned. Volunteers will work in small groups to teach each class based on lesson guidelines. It is our responsibility to teach English in a fun, engaging manner so that energy is reciprocated back from the class. Some English topics that a volunteer might teach are numbers, the alphabet, and the weather. Knowledge of the Spanish language is not necessary to teach English, but a volunteer will likely find that he or she will pick some Spanish up from the children as the week progresses! An average of six hours a day will be spent at the schools; most of the time devoted to teaching and learning, and the other part to recess. Recess is a time to form bonds with the children, read them books in English, teach them songs, and have fun!

The rewarding experience of teaching children occupies most of the trip, but there are cultural opportunities that complement the volunteer experience. Some examples of these are seeing a documentary about Dominican history, an organized tour around the city of Monte Cristi, a trip to the Haitian-Dominican Republic border, and a half day at the beach! Outreach360 organizes most of the day-to-day itinerary, but allows the volunteers some free time which is used as group reflection, hanging out in the park with children, or personal time. Monte Cristi, the site of the Outreach360 headquarters, is a quiet Dominican town with friendly people.

The Alternative Breaks trip to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. As community service is about giving one’s time and energy to a noble cause, it is also about what one takes away from the experience that will make him or her want to do more for the cause in the future. Volunteers on this trip are guaranteed to gain a greater understanding of the global community and of a culture different than their own. This AB trip will prove to be a life-changing, worthy, and fun experience for participants!

Lodging: Housing is provided at the orphanage.


Transportation:  Air

Cost:  $1,100 (plus immunizations, passport)

Service for Peace

Dates of Travel:  March 15-22, 2014

Project Description: El Quimal is an indigenous Mayan community located in the highlands about three hours outside of Guatemala City in the Chimaltenango region. Volunteers will be able to interact daily with members of the community during service and cultural activities. The library initiative has been identified by the community as their top priority, as it serves as the next step in the transformation of El Quimal’s educational capacity. Eventually, the community envisions the construction of two new classrooms to be able to facilitate middle school. This will also be coupled by a community-driven drive toward transforming the mentality; traditionally, families expect kids to drop out of school after grade 5-6 and start to work on the family farm. The library will serve as a gateway for both kids and families to access education on a new level, and will serve as a resource for kids who are no longer able to attend school.

SFP also provides skill-based education and leadership training for the volunteers to help them develop civic mindedness, personal character development, conflict resolution skills, and tools to help them make a contribution to the community and society.

Lodging: Hotel


Transportation:  Air

Cost:  $1,450 (plus immunizations, passport)


AB Ghana
The following are required for all AB participants:
  • Kick-Off Celebration: October 29, 2013
  • Diversity Training: November 7, 2013
  • Fall Fundraiser: TBA
  • Spring Fundraiser: TBA
  • Spring Service Day: April 5, 2014
  • Year-End Gala: April 17, 2014
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