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NOLA Alternative Spring Break Spent Volunteering

UNE NOLA Service Learning Club Facebook

UNE NOLA Service Learning Club Facebook

Ashlee Tiberio, Contributer

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As human beings, we encounter all sorts of obstacles throughout our lives. When we face them, we are the ones that choose which actions to take on the road that follows. These obstacles can be trivial, or they can be monumental; they can be emotional, physical, financial, and can affect every little aspect of our lives that make it hard for us to move forward. One thing that all obstacles share, however, is the one thing that many of us, as human beings, seem to overlook — the force of inspiration and drive that is born from the very failure that has drained us of hope.

As a service learning club, UNE NOLA strives not only to make a difference in the community, but also in the way that simple acts of service are perceived. Because  of all of the negativity we see in news reports circling throughout our local community and even the globe, we want to make a difference. We want to learn, we want to think critically, and we want to solve even the simplest problems of every day life. By choosing to go on alternative spring break trips, we choose to dedicate our time in the most beneficial ways possible. Some may think of it as sacrificing our free time and will say “you should be relaxing”, but members of UNE NOLA would consider our service trip a privilege…not a sacrifice. I am blessed to have worked with these wonderful people for our first annual spring break trip, and am even more lucky to plan more service trips with them in the future.

​So what exactly did we do, and who did we impact? Keep reading! You have time.

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Day 1 – Habitat for Humanity: Southeast New Hampshire 
Well for one, we helped build a two family home in Rochester, NH for a full day, hard hats and hammers included. We learned a lot about where the materials for Habitat come from, the volunteers, and how families are selected for the affordable mortgage, interest free homes. We even learned some handy dandy building tricks that we can utilize personally in the future. At the end of the day, as the rain started to pour down on us, we realized just how much we helped this organization. SENH Habitat is a small chapter of an enormous community of volunteers and a variety of building projects. SENH builds about 1 – 2 homes per year for the people of its community. Compare this to the 1- 2 homes per WEEK that chapters in Florida complete, and you start to realize just how much help this non-profit needs and deserves.

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Day 2 – Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Kennebunk, ME
No, we didn’t just lounge around and have debates on the porcelain thrones all day, but we did insist that we have our photo taken with them. We walked into what looks like another warehouse and were amazed at the mountains of furniture (old, used, AND new) being sold at discounted prices.Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization. That means that every sale at the ReStore filters money back into funding the current or next build that they are going to be working on. The ReStore has everything from furniture sets to a jacuzzi with a list price of $8,000 that is instead being sold for $800. If anyone wants to head down to Kennebunk and buy it for me, that would be lovely.

We helped out by offering our impeccable cleaning skills. Some of us conquered some daunting spiderweb lairs with the vacuum while others polished wood and glassware throughout the store. After that, we helped clean up the backroom of the hardware department by sifting through tons of metal pieces and sorting nails by type into 1 pound bags.

Though we didn’t work too closely with customers, we certainly helped the staff get ahead on their organization when they’re busy making repairs and sales.

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Day 3 – Heart of Biddeford: Cleaning up Clifford Park in Biddeford, ME
As you can imagine, this trip struck pretty close to home for us. Clifford Park is a section of undeveloped land on Pool Street in Biddeford, about 5 minutes away from the UNE campus. For me personally, this day was the hardest for me to maintain my positivity. The park is beautiful, and is a perfect place to go for a nature walk whether you want to bust your buns or just go for a stroll.
However, what we saw wasn’t so pretty. Clifford Park seems to be a popular hangout for many. While walking the trails, picking up cans and litter here and there, we didn’t think it would be that bad. We eventually came to a flat area that had clearly not been used for its true purpose. We saw the remains of a few campfires, trash everywhere, and glass beer and liquor bottles smashed across the rocks. We did our best to bag up what we could. We dismantled the fire pits and covered them with pine needles so that others who walk the trails would not be mistaken in thinking that burning was allowed in the park — it’s NOT.

The sights were a little discouraging to me, but as a group, we held our heads up and did as much as we could to help out. We know we did not only impact the nature lovers who enjoy Clifford Park, but also the environment.

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Choosing to go on an alternative spring break trip is not a sacrifice, it is a blessing and a wonderful opportunity that all people should take at some point during their college career. Together we have determined that coming together as a group with people you barely know requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. It is hard at first, but we all know what really matters and we would all push ourselves outside our limits for the greater good. We are still building our club, and have had amazing opportunities already…

 

To follow NOLA and get more information you can view this blog post and more at: http://unenolaservicelearning.weebly.com/

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