Civil Rights -- Selma, Alabama
Despite its critical role in the advancement of our country’s Civil Rights Movement, Selma is still plagued with segregation and racism. Throughout the week, students volunteered with The Freedom Foundation - an organization committed to ministering in Selma’s progression. Huskies visited four schools and engaged with some of Selma’s youth. The Random Acts of Kindness Theatre Company (RATCo) is a program offered by the Freedom Foundation. RATCo allows Selma's youth to express themselves through dance, poetry, and song. It is often a safe haven or an escape for children coming from broken homes and families. Students interacted with RATCo members, watched some of their choreographed routines, and were even taught some moves themselves!
Students also explored some of Selma’s most historic landmarks like the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Brown Chapel and learned about the not-as-well-known history of the Civil Rights Movement through visits at the Rosa Parks Museum, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Interpretive Center. The experience was eye-opening and forced students to consider personal biases and contradictions. Students were reminded that issues like discrimination, poverty, and segregation still exist in our nation today and not just in Selma. Each volunteer said they returned to DeKalb a new and improved person.
Environmental Restoration & Family Wellness -- Pensacola, Florida
Students volunteered with the Northwest Florida Aquatics Preserves (FAP) and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida, Inc. (RMH). Their mission was to help spread a little joy to the families of the charity house and to contribute to bettering the ecological environment. At FAP, students planted over 1,036 potted spartina paytens, camphor, and primrose plant species. They also bagged approximately 8,000 pounds of oyster shells to put back into the ocean to create more reefs for the oceans. Students learned about what goes into keeping a healthy shoreline. At the RMH, students performed basic chores such as cleaning patio furniture, cleaning the kids' toys, made lunch for the families, and also hosted a bingo night. Working with both the FAP and the RMH allowed NIU students to make a meaningful difference in two very different ways.
Equality for People with Disabilities -- Argyle, Texas
Students volunteered as Camp Counselors to campers at Camp Summit - A week long “sleep away” camp for children and adults with disabilities of all variety. Campers are offered a wide variety of traditional camp activities in their barrier-free environment all of which are adapted for the campers' abilities and not limited to their disabilities. As the organization’s name implies, the goal is to help people with disabilities reach their own personal peak by providing recreational, therapeutic and social activities in an authentically natural camp setting.
Camp Counselors worked one-on-one with children and adults to achieve the camper’s personal goals. Camp Counselors assisted the campers with a wide assortment of accomplishments including activities of daily living, horseback riding, and even just stepping outside away from the television to experience the natural sounds most might take for granted. Camp Counselors gained experience they would never have been provided with in a classroom setting as they stepped out of their comfort zone, and challenged themselves not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
Shelter for Homeless Pregnant Women and Their Children -- St. Louis, Missouri
Huskie Alternative Breaks was happy to collaborate with Our Lady's Inn (OLI) for the first ever winter break trip! Six incredible Huskies donated a portion of their winter break to help an organization that shelters pregnant women and their children. NIU students performed various types of service such as sorting donations, helping with laundry, and watching the children while moms took some time to themselves. Additionally, Huskies volunteered at Twice Blessed Resale - the partner thrift store that directly benefits OLI by allowing women to gain work experience, selling jewelry made by the moms of OLI, and giving 100% of sales back to the shelter. They also played a big role by helping out with the Christmas Party! Students put up the tree, watched the children while moms wrapped presents, and helped make and serve the Christmas dinner.
Affordable Housing, Environmental Restoration, Family Wellness -- Pensacola, Florida
Sixty-seven NIU students and alumni donated almost 1,000 hours of their 2014 spring break time to non-profit organizations in Pensacola, Florida. These volunteers enriched the lives of residents in the community, built lifelong friendships and proved that NIU students and alumni truly strive to be contributing members of the global community. HAB students and NIU alumni and friends from the NIU Sociology Department participated in this trip. NIU volunteers worked primarily with the Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, which provides affordable housing to families in dire need of a safe living space. They spent close to 800 hours throughout the week building two houses for families in need. Participants also volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, a non-profit organization that provides families with children in the hospital a low-cost place to stay, eat and recharge while their loved ones are receiving the critical care that they need. To assist in that mission, NIU volunteers cooked four meals for the families and helped reorganize the food pantry to prevent foods from expiring before being used. Participants also volunteered at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and spent a day bagging oysters that will be used to create reefs along the Florida coast to deter shoreline erosion and promote biodiversity and sustainability in the area.
Disaster Relief -- Joplin, Missouri
During this trip, students were able to help rebuild the home of a couple who lost everything in the 2011 tornado that tore through the town of Joplin. The homeowner's wife had moved away from the area because the memories of the storm left her feeling devastated, so her husband remained in the area to help rebuild the home so that his wife would have something beautiful to come back to and to call home. Huskies were also able to help a homeowner, who hadn't received any assistance since the tornado, clear their yard of debris, and make their home a better place. Students had the opportunity to work at the Salvation Army, rearranging their food pantry so that the workers could more easily distribute food items to the people of Joplin, many of whom were directly affected by the tornado.
Youth & Education -- Newark, New Jersey
This trip was focused on helping the Boys and Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey - servicing both the club itself and the kids by working in their after-school programs for a week.Alternative Breakers from across the country were also at the club to help with the children as well as Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. This allowed NIU students to make friends small and large from local kids to Oregon volunteers! The children, age 6 - 13 years old, were all from impoverished neighborhoods occupied by various gangs in the area, at spent almost every day at the club after their school. Each day, before the children arrived, Huskies had the opportunity to help in other ways which included cleaning the club, repainting the facility, helping open a Sandy supply center, and they even got to experience nearby New York City! It was hard to leave the BGC children and their new friends after such a valuable week with them!
Elderly Issues -- Kissimmee, Florida
Environmental Issues -- Niceville, Florida
Hunger & Homelessness -- Washington D.C.
Youth & Education -- Newark, New Jersey
Disaster Relief -- New Orleans, Louisiana
Animal Welfare -- Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Disaster Relief & Poverty -- Atlanta, Georgia
Although the focus of this trip was initially to provide relief for those affected by the Great Atlanta Flood of 2009, students found themselves doing a wide variety of projects that better helped people in need. One day they helped sort and package books that would be sent to Africa and another day they played with children at a low income child care facility. Students also picked up trash that littered the sidewalks and empty lots. They worked hard to rip out the mold infested drywall and sprayed mold treatment in the house of a family who had become sick from the mold.
Animal Issues -- Grassy Key, Florida
Students worked with the Dolphin Research Center which helps to rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals while educating the public about the lives of these mammals. Huskies helped them with a lot of the projects that are needed to for the facility to run on a day to day basis. This included picking up trash from out of the water and around the facility, taking seaweed from the lagoon for the facility to use, and other general needs the center had.
Animal Issues and Environment -- San Francisco, California
The focus of this trip was to work with the Rescued Orphan Mammal Project to help injured and orphaned mammals return to the wild. Some of the projects we completed include building a cage for a bird sanctuary that will be used to house injured birds while they rehabilitate, and we cleaned up the yard where many rescued mammals were being housed as they rehabilitated so that they would have a better environment to live in. We also helped to clean up a park by weeding and making sure there was nothing poisonous that could hurt animals.
Disaster Relief -- Galveston, Texas
Huskies traveled to Galveston and worked with Community Collaborations to aid in the relief efforts to help those devastated by Hurricane Ike which was the third costliest in U.S. history. The students helped by cleaning or gutting out mud and mold infested houses. They also cleaned out a warehouse so that it could be used as a food pantry and picked up a beach that had been littered with debris left over from the hurricane.
Hunger & Homelessness
People with Disabilities
Youth & Education