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Spring break community service trip option attracts more students

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

Spring Break 2012

photo courtesy of Kelly Cline

A groupp of Point Park students traveled to Tacoma, Wash, during spring break of 2012 to volunteer their time and efforts working with Habitat for Humanity.

 

Blueprints of the 2013 Point Park-affiliated “Alternative Spring Break Trips” are close to being completed, according to trip advisors.

The students and administrators from three different groups will render aid to less fortunate citizens in some of the United States’ struggling metropolitan cities, including Oakland, Calif., New Orleans, La. and New York, N.Y.

This year’s trips are set to reach new heights.

Arrangements have been put on pause because some groups received many more applicants than in previous years, making the student selection process more difficult for advisors.

Brad Kovalcik, coordinator of student activities in the University’s Office of Campus Life, is one of two advisors who is heading the selection process and is set to tag along in the Campus Life trip.  He is overwhelmed with the level of student interest.

“We received 36 applications so far this year.  In the past, we typically got a number in between 15 and 20,” said Kovalcik in his office on Thursday.  “I think the key is choosing a place students have never been to before.”

Kovalcik chose to fly students into San Francisco, Calif., where they will bus their way into neighboring Oakland, Calif., to complete volunteer work under the nonprofit group Habitat For Humanity.  When not occupied with hammers and nails, the group hopes to visit some of the landmarks central California has to offer, including redwood forests and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Kovalcik said his group typically pays visits to areas previously stricken by natural disaster.  The New Jersey area was on his map for this year’s trip after Hurricane Sandy destroyed or seriously damaged tens of thousands of homes and businesses, but the state simply is not ready to accept physical volunteer support according to Kovalcik

The University’s Honors Program, however, will travel to New York, NY., by way of Megabus.  Under the direction of professor Helen Fallon, the group has teamed up with New York Cares to assist community needs in a Hurricane Sandy aftermath project. 

In a four-day trip that will span from March 4-7, Fallon hopes to cover as much turf as possible in the city that never sleeps. 

“We hope to tour the United Nations, visit Harlem and see Herald Square,” said Fallon in her office Tuesday.  “We are also working with a Point Park alumnus, who lives in New York, to march in the AIDS Walk on New York.”

A select few students from another student activities group called The Body Christian Fellowship will be heading to New York, NY., to do similar activities. 

In addition to its trip, The Body will also partner with a volunteer mission group called Camp Restore, whose headquarters are located in New Orleans, La.  The trip is headed by Katherine Sikma, advisor for The Body.

Sikma said over the phone that the group will send nine students to New Orleans. Both the Campus Life and The Body will arrive in their respected cities March 3 and leave finish up on March 9.  Both will work from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. 

 

“This is our fourth trip to the area,” said Sikma.  “When we are not doing building work, we will be tutoring students or planting trees.  We will also take walking tours of the city, listen to live jazz, walk through the French Quarter and tour cemeteries.”

Sikma said United Student Government (USG) of Point Park, Christ Community Church in Pittsburgh’s South Hills and personal money will provide the funding for the trip.

USG will also contribute in-part to the Honors Program’s trip. 

Kovalcik and his Campus Life group will be covered by Point Park’s student activity fee, along with student contributions.  The trip costs $800 per student.

“We’ve had great trips in the past,” said Sikma.  “I don’t remember hearing any complaints during past trips.”

All interested in applying for any of the three trips should to contact Sikma, Fallon or Kovalcik for further detail.

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