Across the U.S. and Canada, Ithaca College Students Give of Themselves Over Spring Break

By Stephen Shoemaker, March 10, 2017

Across the U.S. and Canada, Ithaca College Students Give of Themselves Over Spring Break

As Ithaca College students depart for Spring Break next week, 40 will disperse throughout the country and Canada to spend their time volunteering for a variety of causes, while another three will trek to Alaska to help locals prepare their income taxes.

The annual Alternative Spring Break program sends small teams of students to work with organizations that espouse a number of missions, while each year several School of Business students travel with faculty member Mary Bouchard to the 49th state to assist in tax preparation.

This year’s slate of Alternative Spring Break options offered students opportunities to aid in the fight against poverty or tackle issues of unequal access to healthy food options in urban environments, among other options.

“With students here being interested in so many different things, we don’t want to have five trips that just do disaster relief, or that just send students to state or national parks to do preservation and conservation work,” said Don Austin, assistant director of community service and leadership development in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs.

The ASB program has worked with several of this year’s partner organizations for a number of years, while two of the service trips – to Detroit and Toronto – are new.

“We try to offer consistency, and we also try to make sure there’s some freshness in the program too,” Austin said.

This year students will be heading to the following locations to work with local organizations:

Toronto, Canada
Students will work with Sistering, an organization which serves homeless and marginalized women in the Toronto metro area by offering practical and emotional support through programs that help them to take greater control over their lives.

Detroit, Mich.
Volunteers will team up with CASS Community Social Services, which offers food, housing, health services and jobs programs for Detroit residents.  

Outer Banks of North Carolina
This region is under constant threat of pollution, habitat destruction and increased human impact on the natural environment. Students will volunteer with the North Carolina Coastal Federation on a variety of preservation projects, including coastal cleanups, reef and shellfish restoration, and community outreach.

Kiptopeke State Park, Va.
This rural state park, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, is a major flyway for migratory birds. Students will support the Virginia Department of Parks and Recreation in conducting routine maintenance, trail building and restoration, beautification projects and a variety of other tasks.

Washington, D.C.
Students will work with five nonprofit organizations in the nation’s capital that directly address issues of hunger and food insecurity, and will learn firsthand how access to food impacts people’s ability to come out of poverty. The five organizations are: DC Central Kitchen, The Capital Area Food Bank, City Blossoms, Bread for the City and Neighborhood Farm Initiative.

Ammonak and Kotlik, Ala.
Ithaca College is one of only about a half dozen institutions to participate in the Volunteer Tax & Loan Program, which is sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Center. This year, senior accounting majors Tauland Gashi, Harrison Lindsay and Brooke Morsch will accompany Bouchard on the trip. These two villages in western Alaska are only accessible by air. In past years, students have often worked from 8:30 a.m. until after midnight, with residents sometimes waiting eight or nine hours in line to get their taxes done.