Northwest Alternative Spring Break is set to travel to the Carolinas, helping in relief efforts from Hurricane Florence for its yearly service trip this semester.
The 2019 trip is dedicated to hurricane relief in North and South Carolina. Members of the organization will help with home restorations, volunteer at local after-school programs, food banks, animal shelters and other areas in need of service.
The selection process for what trip is chosen involves Northwest ASB’s involvement in Community Collaborations International.
CCI is a lead organization that supports and promotes the expansion of alternative break programs. They place volunteers from more than 200 universities and colleges in the U.S. and internationally.
Through CCI, Northwest ASB was given options of placement and the executive board decided on what trip fit them best based on price and location.
Northwest ASB President Jessica Bloustine says hurricane relief has been their focus because of the present need of help in those areas.
“We will be working with disaster management and beach cleanup, along with flooded homes,” Bloustine said. “Those kind of projects are what we are looking to help with this year.”
ASB participates in the fall and spring organization fairs for student outreach. Even with its recruitment efforts, the organization has been low in numbers in recent years. The executive board is made up of second-year members who are dedicated to the growth of the organization.
Northwest ASB’s mission is to expose students to diverse cultures and traditions through service and activism, immersing students in unique environments. Boustine recounts connections she has made through the organization.
“These people— I would have never seen on a regular day on campus,” Bloustine said. “We’re all from different majors and backgrounds. It’s really cool to connect through community service.”
Northwest ASB fundraising board member Delaney Smail said there hasn’t been a situation where they had to decline an applicant.
“We usually get about 20 applications, and we haven’t had to turn anyone away,” Smail said.
The organization typically gets around 20 members, including new and returning members plus those on the executive board to take part in the trip each spring semester. They are hoping the number of members will increase within the next few years.
In the past, Northwest ASB has been to Washington D.C., New Orleans, Florida and other sites in need of volunteer service. The type of service they take part in depends on where they decide to go and what kind of help is needed that year.
The cost of the 2019 trip per person is $650. Students are given the option to fundraise for their part of the cost with fundraising events throughout the year. In the fall, they sold koozies at Bearcat football games and asked local businesses, friends and family for donations. They also worked at the SSM St. Francis Hospital Health Gala.
ASB hosted a dodgeball tournament at the Student Recreation Center between two teams who donated to participate Saturday. Five teams signed up for the event and two attended. Those who played were the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity of Northwest. The event raised a little over $40 toward ASB’s upcoming service trip March 21 to April 1.
Dodgeball is a new fundraising event, and they plan to host it again in the future to improve it and make it bigger, with more teams participating each year. More teams mean more donations, and they hope to raise the $40 up to a larger donation amount.
Bloustine said the event was a way for students to learn about the organization while enjoying fun competition.
“We took notes over what went well and what didn’t go so well to make improvements for next year,” Bloustine said. “With more time to plan and advertise, I have no doubt that tournaments in the future could be a big success and lots of fun.”
Northwest ASB’s goal is to provide individuals with service learning opportunities while positively influencing others lives.
Tilena Conover went to Jacksonville, Florida, with Northwest ASB in 2018. She remembers enjoying helping in the Maryville community as well as the trip itself.
“I’d say my favorite part of the trip was the smiles that were spread that week,” Conover said. “Everywhere we went, we were all smiling and spreading joy. I'm glad I was part of such a positive group of people.”