By Rosemary Leger – Managing Editor
While some students basked in the sunlight on a far away island, 26 selfless Lasers embarked on two Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips.
This increasingly competitive program holds trips annually through the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL).
One group drove 17 hours to Atlanta, GA to serve the homeless and work outside. The second group traveled to Philadelphia, PA where they focused on community development.
The group of 17 students who participated in the trip to Atlanta were joined by two faculty advisors, Tiesha “Byrd” Hughes, Assistant Director of the CCBL, and Shawn Fleurie (’15), the AmeriCorps VISTA at the CCBL. They were student-led by seniors Gabriella Gianegregorio, Phil Skerry, and junior Hayley Kreckler.
The group began their hard work at Truly Living Well, an urban community garden on Sunday. The following days consisted of service at Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center, helping out in the food pantry, and Piedmont Park, the largest park in the city of Atlanta.
A highlight for many participants of the trip was their work on Wednesday and Thursday with Meals on Wheels. In conjuction, the group prepared and delivered meals to the elderly, and worked in the day centers.
“Traveling to Atlanta this spring break was truly an amazing experience. I am so grateful for our group going above and beyond what was expected of them,” said Kreckler.
“Participating in ASB was hands down one of the best experiences I’ve had at Lasell,” said junior Aliza Bogosian. “Not only was the service work rewarding and obviously impactful, but I now am walking away with 18 new friends.”
“I can happily say this was the best trip I’ve been on,” said Skerry, who participated in two trips before leading Atlanta. “Knowing this will be my last trip is really upsetting, but I’m honored to have been able to have this opportunity with this unbelievable group of students.”
The second group, who worked in Philadelphia, PA, were guided by alumni advisors Kia Rivera and Flannagh Fitzsimmons, both graduates of the class of 2014. The trip was co-led by juniors J.R. Costello and Raquel Barnes.
“The whole experience was very therapeutic, I love putting other people’s priorities before my own,” said sophomore Kara Hemenway. “I learned a lot through the community service we did by helping others.”
In Philadelphia, they served at the Lutheran Settlement House, a senior citizen and youth education program. There, they educated the youth population about gardening and healthy habits. They also worked at Cradles to Crayons, fulfilling “shopping lists” for children in need, and Camphill Village, a residency for adults with special needs.
The group connected with the St. James School, where they assisted in clearing the school yard to plan for a basketball court that would later be a surprise to the students. Costello especially enjoyed this portion of the trip.
“After eating lunch with the students, they taught us about their school’s culture and they taught me some popular dances, like how to milly rock,” said Costello.
Each group stayed roughly an hour from their city and commuted in and out each day, providing the team with more time to bond and reflect.