UIndy Serves is offering University of Indianapolis students an opportunity to do something that will be impactful during Spring Break. UIndy Serves is offering three alternative Spring Break trips to Selma, Ala., Omaha, Neb. and St. Augustine, Fla. According to Troy Heffron, one of UIndy Serves program advisors, the main purpose of UIndy Serves is to provide students the opportunity to engage in service over university breaks in communities outside of Indianapolis.
Each trip is led by student site leaders, according to Heffron.
“We have student site leaders who ultimately plan the trips. They pick an issue that they care about and that they are able to find an opportunity to volunteer with,” Heffron said. “They make a lot of phone calls to various nonprofit organizations until they find an organization that is able to partner with us and that we can effectively partner with. So that is kind of how the locations are set up.”
Each trip will be led by two student site leaders and a staff advisor. There will be approximately nine student volunteers for each trip as well.
The Selma, Ala. trip is led by junior social work major Alexis Fort and senior psychology pre-occupational therapy major Aubriana Adney. They will work closely with the Freedom Foundation. The Freedom Foundation, according to freedomfoundation.org, has been “facilitating service-learning programs since 2008 and believes in thought-provoking, challenging, life-changing service learning trips.”
Fort hopes that students will leave Selma with more awareness and knowledge from their experience, and she hopes to provide the group with an opportunity they will feel is life-changing.
“We chose the Freedom Foundation because we wanted give our students at UIndy the opportunity to learn about the civil rights movement,” Fort said. “I hope the volunteers gain more awareness about communities and individuals who are outside of their own communities. I really hope they gain a lot of knowledge from their experience and become eager to make a difference for others that deal with discrimination and social injustice.”
Junior international relations major Siglinde Ferguson and senior biology and chemistry major Rochelle Short will be leading the Omaha, Neb. trip. They will be working closely with Habitat for Humanity, which according to habitatomaha.org, is a “grassroots organization that builds and renovates houses, forges community partnerships and breaks down barriers.”
Ferguson feels students participating will learn a great deal from this particular location.
“Omaha is a city that has a lot of need, especially a need for housing. Habitat for Humanity has all of the resources needed to help supply the expertise for volunteers to properly build houses and help with deconstruction of existing houses,” Ferguson said. “I hope that they [they] will gain the appreciation for service just as I did in their shoes just one year before. I hope that all of the participants become the active citizens that I know they can become.”
Senior psychology major Anthony Jackson and junior exercise science pre-occupational therapy major Sarah Humbird will lead the trip to St. Augustine, Fla. They will work closely with St. John’s Housing Partnership.
This nonprofit’s mission, according to sjhp.org, is to “promote safe, decent and affordable housing in North Florida … by creating links between the public and private sectors on projects that create low-and-moderate-income housing, rebuild neglected homes and neighborhoods, thus benefiting disadvantaged areas and enhancing community economic and social development.”
These trips are structured to be a learning experience for students, and Heffron hopes they enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to be able to serve others.
“In my undergrad, I participated in a lot of these trips as a participant, then going to a site [as a] leader and then ultimately working on the back end setting up the trips. For me, it was a huge growth experience to learn about what it means to be committed to service, to community, as well as being able to share that experience with other students,” Heffron said. “So I am hoping to share similarly impactful opportunities with students. I hope this program can grow into something the UIndy students really take ownership and take pride of.”