We will be having around 24 sites this year and we are excited about them all! Some sites we are returning to (up to 20+ years we’ve gone for spring break!) and some are brand new partnerships! It is important to consider ALL topics when ranking. Try something new and you’ll learn something new! If there are multiple sites for a trip you are not guaranteed a specific site within that topic if you rank it.
Site Topics and Descriptions:
- This site is home to 9 joyful volunteers, 19 peaceful cows/oxen, and a carefree flock of about 40 peacocks, 350 acres of rolling green hay fields, pastures and diverse woods engages in compassionate farming, as well as all many other activities. This site is a small intentional community with a singular aim of integrating their existence based on the principles of love, care and respect for all living beings. Spirituality, Sustainability and Community Care form the basis of all activities. The site practices Bhakti yoga and is self-sufficient by growing their own food through organic farming.
- This is one of six National Model Domestic Violence programs. In 2013, it provided emergency shelter to 246 women and children. In the same year, it provided transitional housing to 50 women and their 110 children. Of all families served in 2013 who exited transitional housing, 87% have been able to secure and maintain permanent housing. The work of this organization extends beyond crisis management to help build safer, healthier communities. Last year, participants served as tutors and playdates for the students in the after-school program. The program primarily serves children who have experienced domestic violence. Additionally, they helped the Director of the center with anything the site needed before the kids arrive from school.
- This organization strives to educate, improve, promote, conserve, and provide stewardship for the National Park and its services. Service projects consist of everything from trail maintenance and tree plantings, to litter clean up and other area improvements, such as painting or recreational facility improvements. Students will be able to learn first hand about conservation efforts and the value of preserving nature.
- By drawing connections between the needs of the surrounding and global community, this site looks to educate on the current issues related to food justice and sustainable solutions to these problems in the food system and consumer consumption. Volunteers will have the chance to assist in working on their self-sustainable farm and learn about the various techniques they are experimenting with in order to implement in global communities. During the week, there are multiple simulations to bring further awareness of the issues different populations face concerning specifically food inequality and inaccess. Additionally, there are on-site teachings from the staff to help provide greater understanding of their work with other programs locally and how to implement these ideas beyond the farm. —Anna Bowie’s Experience, 2016
- This site seeks to increase accessibility of fresh, locally grown produce in hopes of decreasing obesity levels and increase levels of food security. As a network of community gardens, they provide fresh produce to anyone in need and bring together a diverse group of individuals to help grow, harvest, and share healthy foods. They also devote resources to educating the community on sustainability, food education, and how to grow your own produce. Participants on this trip will spend time in the gardens, visiting local establishments (homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.), and learning about the greater community. The founder of this organization is working firsthand not only to combat food insecurity in her own community but also to educate and empower community members, while bringing people from all different backgrounds and perspectives together in one of many gardens where anyone can come and have access to fresh foods, for free. Much of the experience at this site may include working in the greenhouse, planting seeds, cleaning up the garden area, as well as lots of engagement with the local community! This site definitely demonstrates the intersectionality of social issues like poverty, food justice, and homelessness.— Jordan Pond’s experience, 2015
- This organization, started by a nun who delivered food to AIDS patients during the AIDS epidemic, now functions to provide meals for people with compromised immune systems. In the past, trips have worked in the kitchen on this site. Tasks have varied from packaging meals to helping prepare ingredients for cooking. During their time there, participants learn about the precautions that must be taken in order to prepare food safely for those with compromised immune systems, as well as getting to know the large volunteer base there.— Ross Baiers’s experience, 2014
Healthcare & Disabilities
- A non-profit program for students and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Staff work to further reading, writing, speaking, listening, and physical fitness skills of those who attend. The small group of faculty work hard to encourage the clients to do their very best in whichever skills they are building. ASB participants helped the center with various therapies, the afterschool program, and inventory. The site’s faculty worked closely with the ASB participants to communicate their history, needs, and hopes. One of the most positive and encouraging spaces I have ever entered! — Andrea Martin’s experience, 2015
- This groundbreaking site works to increase awareness about differing abilities by engaging with differently-abled children and adults in the community. Through outdoor activities such as rock climbing, zip lining and obstacle courses, all of which can be adapted to suit any particular physical difference, as well as through team-building and other indoor activities, the staff at this site seek to foster an environment in which individuals with differing abilities can come together and form meaningful relationships with one another. What I enjoyed most about this site is the dedication they demonstrate to each child; we were fortunate enough to work with children from different elementary, middle and high schools every day and we learned more than we could have ever in a lecture hall. This site truly exposes participants to the social justice topic of health and disability! I would give everything to experience this ASB trip one more time, and I am a better human being as a result of my participation!— Neel Swamy’s experience, 2016
- An organization that empowers 10,000+ youth and adults each year with special needs through its barrier-free model. The site aims to help youth and adults grow in their independence and confidence, while also creating a welcoming and fun environment. Participants will have an opportunity to work 1:1 with campers, as well as help the site with whatever tasks they may need.
- This organization strives to integrate adults with cognitive disabilities into the community while helping them to become more independent and self-reliant. One major program offered by this organization is their residential program that allows clients to be able to live in a home of their own. Another major component of this organization is their day programs, which aim to help clients learn life skills and help build a community support network. This organization also works with local employers to help clients find work. Previous trips to this site have involved a variety of different types of service work assisting the different programs. Participants could do anything ranging from helping to renovate apartments in the residential program to involvement with their day programs.
- This site is a supportive community, providing resources and housing for people living with HIV/AIDs or other special needs. The residents of this community “participate in case management services, drug and alcohol abuse/dependency intervention, educational and employment assistance, and life skills training.” Students in the past have helped the community by interacting with the residents, listening to their stories, or aiding with the services/opportunities that the shelter provides.
- This organization provides housing and related supportive services to help improve the quality of life and health outcomes of people affected by HIV/AIDS. Participants will have a variety of opportunities to engage with this community and organization. Students will have the chance to aid the organization by providing support at their main facility, as well as by going out to the different residential community living spaces. The chance to meet and talk with clients about their stories is one of the most memorable and impactful aspects of working at this site.— Paul Ilkka experience, 2016
Immigration & Refugee Rights
- This is an international organization dedicated to assisting and resettling refugees. The site aims to provide refugees with the resources necessary to become financially independent in the United States. Participants in the past have had the opportunity to work with refugees in the site’s English, culture, and math classes. Additionally, the group will help in the site’s thrift store, which provides clothing and household items at no cost to its customers.
- This site truly looks at the details when it comes to refugee resettlement by offering a multitude of services to give incoming refugees the tools to establish a home here in the United States. The employees go above and beyond to serve their clients and the community. During the week, their work ethic was made clear and encouraged us as service learners to work hard. The staff was also very open and friendly. They took the time to explain the resettlement process and the different departments at the center. They were also always happy to answer any of our questions. All of us left with knowledge that we did not have prior to this experience. It has allowed us to get a glimpse into the multiple facets of the refugee experience. Our site contact was also really helpful in making sure we received a multitude of experiences and providing us the opportunity to interact with a number of different people from the community. The community was extremely welcoming and warm and after our time there, this site truly holds a place in our heart.
— Rachel Goldstein and Yasmeen Farran’s experience, 2016
- The organization focuses on addressing issues that affect members of the LGBTQ community. This organization is conscious to address the needs of the LGBTQ community in the present. Past trips have helped to work with the UndocuQueer movement to provide educational training on undocumented persons who identify as LGBTQ to know what their legal rights are. This work has included helping to pilot a nationwide educational training session as well as helping to facilitate an educational training in a small rural, conservative town. This site allows participants to gain a deeper understanding of the intersectionality that helps to define the LGBTQ community.— Ross Baiers’s experience, 2015
Native American Justice
- The founders of this center are focused on educating others about Iroquois and Abenaki traditions. With that, students who visit this site will do education-based activities that focus on learning about Iroquois and Abenaki culture and history. We listened to traditional stories, such as the Iroquois creation story, and we heard from speakers who spoke about how the Iroquois government functions, as well as important issues for the Iroquois people. We also learned about the Abenaki language and how it is structured, further reflecting the values of the Abenaki people. Also, students will learn and practice outdoor and wilderness skills, such as tracking animals, navigating by using the sun, and building shelters and fires. Most days were made up partly of education, and partly with maintenance of the center, performing whichever tasks they needed us to do. We painted parts of the center, built a fire den to be used for the center’s summer camps, and also did some weeding outside. In addition, we painted a mural in the center of something we learned during our time there, which is a tradition for every student group that visits the site. — Nikole Koszarycz’s experience, 2016
- This organization focuses on helping families that are struggling to get back on their feet. They provide a helping hand, not a handout. They provide many resources to a rural community that has few other options to receive help. While on this trip, we worked on many different projects for local families. We helped to build a homeless shelter and also worked on a house that was to go to someone in desperate need of a new place to live. This trip is an eye opening experience about what it looks like to be poor in a place without many resources to help. — Mel Thompson’s experience, 2015
- In experiencing the impact of this site’s multiple community programs, volunteers will be given a multidimensional view of the great work being undone to support community members in urban populations. During our trip, we assisted the site with their recycling plant that gives jobs to adults of different abilities, in addition to working in their food kitchen to provide nutritious, daily meals to adults and families in the community that lacked housing and resources. Additionally our other various jobs included helping remodel a few apartments for incoming residents to their housing apartment complex for families. One of my favorite experiences was being able to share breakfast and lunch with the community members who had endured so much from homelessness, mental illness, addiction, and personal loss, yet still held such joy and hope that I can only hope to replicate. This site also does work with providing jobs through their store that raises awareness about the community and craftsmanship of community members. Each day was so different and rewarding in being able to see the support in place by the site and its program, in addition to forming everlasting relationships through the week with the community and their benefit from the work of the site.
Youth & Education
- This organization is much more than your typical after-school program, it is a family to many kids. The amazing woman who started it works very hard to give deserving kids a good education. She works to provide scholarships so that these kids can go to better schools. She gives them a place to go after school so that they can get their homework done and so their parents know they are safe. While on this trip we were all paired with a student and helped them with their homework. During the day we helped organize the site. It was so much fun and the kids are amazing! — Mel Thompson experience, 2016
- This amazing site works to design and implement fun, interactive, and activity-based programs aimed at teaching children aged Kindergarten – Twelfth grade about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and community. Much of what we did on our trip was actually learning the program’s curriculums, and going into various schools around the area to teach in classrooms! Each grade level has a different program, and we taught these to elementary school children! What I loved most about the work we did at this organization was the insight it gave us into the education system, and how it relates to other social issues such as poverty. This site definitely provided a powerful learning and growing experience!— Jordan Pond’s experience, 2016
- This site has a passion for education and inclusivity, allowing students to be their best, whatever their personal best may be. The atmosphere is very conducive to learning because of the willingness of the students and staff to work together. The emotional and educational support that the staff provides is exceptional, and was reflected in the students. Because of the support the staff gives the students, the students showed up ready and excited to learn. I loved the attitudes of the students, it made me so excited to work them. I also loved how the teachers catered to many different types of learning for different types of students. The importance they placed on the education of students with special needs was admirable. My experience at this site reinforced my passion for education and how important it is.— John VanderHeuvel, 2016