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Alternative Spring Break becomes Alternative Weekends amid COVID, Students Serve Safely and Locally

Cautious optimism was the guiding phrase used by the Alternative Breaks planning team this year. Having no concept of what March 2021 would bring, the Alternative Breaks leadership team pared down the number of trips to 7 and selected a new cohort of 14 Team Leaders in hopes of engaging students in our traditional week-long service trips. As we proceeded into the fall, we consciously pivoted to focus the program on regional trips throughout New England. When the university made the decision to eliminate spring break from the academic calendar, we created the third and final iteration of this year’s program model – Alternative Weekends. 

Our task was to intentionally compress the week-long experience of Alternative Spring Break into safe and socially distant hybrid opportunities for service and learning. In pairs, the Team Leaders selected a critical social issue that could be explored by their team through education, action, and reflection. Over the course of the year, our leaders connected with community-based organizations to identify service projects, coordinated presentations, and gather resources to further understand the impact of their trip topic on communities in Massachusetts. 

These trips occurred each weekend throughout the month of March. Each trip kicked off with a Friday evening activity to create connection among the team and set the tone and context for their weekend of service and learning. From Boston to Cape Cod to Peabody to Athol, the Team Leaders led their groups of 4-5 volunteers through a variety of service projects focused on food security, opioid prevention, healthcare access, and housing security. Volunteers prepared meals with the Truro Community Kitchen, supported construction with Habitat for Humanity, prepared produce bags with Fair Foods, participated in an opioid prevention training through Health Resources in Action, and more!

As we look toward the 2021-2022 school year, the Alternative Breaks program hopes to identify new opportunities to engage students through Alternative Spring Break and Alternative Weekend trip options. Learn more!