Tuesday, March 26, 2013

UNO Students Gain Service Hours During Alternative Spring Break

Volunteer-minded students at the University of New Orleans collectively spent more than 100 service hours yesterday cleaning up campus as part of a beautification project designed to kick off "alternative spring break."

The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership hosts an alternative fall break and an alternative spring break every year, said Dale O'Neill, coordinator of leadership and community service programs at UNO. Students who are staying in town for the holiday often choose to spend their break working in the community. Participating students choose a theme or general interest for their outreach. Activities are coordinated by the University's Service Coalition, made up of students who plan and implement community outreach programs.

"The students are very passionate as they understand that in attending the University of New Orleans they have a responsibility to give back to the city," said O'Neill. "We tell students that because they go to the University of New Orleans, they should serve the city of New Orleans. This is their community."

This week, Alternative Spring Break at UNO began with a campus beautification project that brought 66 students to the quad to work for two hours, said O'Neill. Collectively, the students put in at least 132 hours of service. The Office of SIL regularly tracks student service hours at UNO to assess students' impact in the community.

Today, the volunteers will spend the day planting a garden at the Edible School Yard at Joseph S. Clark High School in Treme, where students will learn about health, wellness, the environment and other subjects through hands-on kitchen and garden classes and special events. Edible Schoolyard New Orleans is one of six original "edible schoolyards" tied to the original schoolyard in Berkeley that launched a movement that today boasts more than 12,000 edible gardens in schoolyards nationwide.

On Wednesday, alternative spring breakers at UNO will spend the day working with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity to build a house. Habitat for Humanity is a nationwide nonprofit organization that helps "hard working, low-income families in New Orleans to build and finance new, safe, affordable homes," according to its website. "The program makes homeownership possible for families who are unable to qualify for traditional home loans but have a stable job, good or no credit, and the willingness to contribute 350 hours of sweat equity to the building of Habitat homes."  Since the flooding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, NOAHH has helped to rebuild and restore nearly 500 area homes.

Learn more about alternative fall and spring breaks at the University of New Orleans >>
Learn more about the University of New Orleans Office of Student Involvement and Leadership >>
Read more about the New Orleans Edible Schoolyard Project >>
Read more about the Edible Schoolyard Project >>