Mizzou Alternative Break hosts 52 trips over spring break

MAB plans to expand to meet increasing demand.
Freshman Lauren Taylor works on a building as a part of a Habitat for Humanity project that she participated in while on Alternative Spring Break in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This was Taylor’s first trip with the program. Courtesy of Mase Kerwick

While some students headed off on ski excursions, beach trips or ventures home for spring break, 650 students traveled to locations across the U.S. for a week of volunteer service.

Fifty-two groups traveled to 44 different cities, spanning from Billings, Mont., to Washington, D.C., to provide various services this spring. These service trips included aiding people in homeless and impoverished areas, dealing with issues within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, caring for children, and working for women’s rights.

Mizzou Alternative Breaks recently changed its name from Alternative Spring Break because the growing organization has expanded to include service trips during spring, winter, Thanksgiving and other breaks, MAB coordinator Bryan Goers said.

The program has grown from eight trips and 80 participants in 2010 to 69 trips and 850 participants this year, Goers said. This spring there were 52 trips with 650 participants.

After more than 1,600 students applying for 850 spots this year, MAB made plans to expand to meet the increasing demand.

“Mizzou students clearly have a passion for service, and our growth is a prime example of how much Mizzou students care about the world around them,” Goers said.

Sophomore Sean McNealy first found out about MAB by browsing organizations his freshman year. He applied for the first-ever winter trip and traveled to Alabama to work with Habitat for Humanity. He then went on another trip to New Orleans to work with Animal Rescue New Orleans in spring 2013.

“I wanted to be involved with something at Mizzou,” McNealy said. “Traveling across the country to serve other communities sounded really appealing and like an amazing opportunity.”

During this spring break, McNealy traveled to Fort Thompson, S.D., and helped with Native American issues. Having gone on three MAB trips, McNealy said each trip experience differs greatly another.

McNealy said he was told not to compare past trips to upcoming ones.

“I had to keep reminding myself to not do that because each trip is truly a different and unique experience,” he said. “I have recognized that this trip is so special and completely different from any service event I have participated in through Mizzou or organizations in my hometown.”

Junior Jonathan Hambacker traveled to Denver this spring break to work with Habitat for Humanity in his first MAB trip.

He said he became interested in participating in a trip to see what all the hype was about.

“I got involved with (MAB) just by hearing fantastic things from other students, and being a junior, I felt that I should go ahead and give it a try,” Hambacker said. “It’s been a great experience, and I think I might apply to be a site leader next year.”

Hambacker and McNealy both said their time spent on MAB trips during spring break was rewarding. Goers said participants are very positive about their experiences overall.

“I knew that (MAB) would be a great experience that challenged the way I looked at certain situations,” Hambacker said. “Especially on this trip, I have worked with people firsthand who help in the community and with the Habitat for Humanity program. … It’s a great sense of community all around.”

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