Alternative Spring Break group heads to Virginia

Photo courtesy of Butler University. 


Butler students know about the Community of C.A.R.E. on campus, but how do Bulldogs care for people outside of Indianapolis?

Alternative Spring Break was founded in 2005. For the last 11 years, Butler students travel to a location in the United States during spring break to work on affordable housing projects and provide disaster relief for communities in need.

Affordable housing projects involve restoring and doing maintenance work for low income housing like yard work and general upkeep. Disaster relief trips involve repairing areas and helping in communities that have been struck by hard times, storms, or other crippling conditions.  

This year, 24 Butler students and two staff advisors will be making the eight-hour bus ride to Roanoke, Virginia to work on an affordable housing project. The group will leave on Sunday and begin working the next morning through March 10.

These Bulldogs will pair with a service organization called Renovation Alliance. This group typically works to restore the housing of families, veterans, the disabled and the elderly.

Abby Dolan, senior marketing and international business student, is the president of ASB. As president, she works with the service organizations that the group partners with to plan the trip and oversees the fundraising and reflection planning. She also manages the trip’s application process and recruits faculty advisors.

This will be her third trip, and she said she is really looking forward to it.

“I’m really excited because the past two trips I have been on have been disaster relief so this will be a little bit new,” Dolan said.

One of Dolan’s favorite parts of participating in ASB is seeing people in a new light.

“For me, it has been one of my most important experiences at Butler,” Dolan said. “It is also a good way to get out and see other people in the world and in our country and see how they live.”

Participants on the trip attend four pre-trip meetings. Once on the trip, the group spends nearly all of their time together. They typically end the workweek with a fun activity on the afternoon of the last day.

Natalie Koch, first-year exploratory studies student, said she is excited for the opportunity to meet new people on her first trip.

I’ve been able to meet and talk with some of the other students who are also going on the trip,” Koch said. “Once we head out to Virginia, that’s when the bonding will really happen and I know I’m going to make some great friends from going on this trip.”

While the trip directly helps those in need of proper housing and shelter, it is also beneficial to the workers. Students have a chance to get to know people they otherwise would have never met.

“You get to meet people from across the university,” Dolan said, “I live with two people that I met on a trip so it is a good way to meet lifelong friends.”

Once they arrive in Virginia, the group will have sessions of “education reflection” after every work day. During these times, members of the trip will share stories from the day and reflect on the things they saw and learned from their work.

Isabel Murphy is a sophomore pharmacy student and a second-year ASB participant. She sees reflection as one of the biggest parts of the trip.

“During the trip we really focus in on it,” Murphy said. “It helps you think deeper into how the work we are doing is impacting the community. It helps to give your actions a purpose.”