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Alternative Spring Break 2014 Edition

KSC students share their experien ces during six service trips.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / ELLEN LONSDALE

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / ALLIE BEDELL

KSC students Mason Prata and Daniel Jean help restore a house during their service trip to New Orleans over spring break.

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SHADY VALLEY, TENN. Lisa Bryant Zak Koehler CINCINNATI, OH Katie Wynot

LAYOUT AND DESIGN Karina Barriga Albring COPY EDITORS Pamela Bump Danielle Mulligan

ZAK KOEHLER / WEBMASTER

PHOTO EDITOR Brian Cantore

NEW YORK CITY, NY Skylar Beddie BOSTON, MASS. Daniel Jean NEW ORLEANS, LA Allie Bedell NEWPORT, NC Ellen Lonsdale


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Table of Contents C4 New York City, NY C6 Cincinnati, OH

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C8 Shady Valley, Tenn. C10 Boston, Mass. C12 New Orleans, LA C14 Newport, NC

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / ELLEN LONSDALE


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Art and teaching come together in the Big Apple

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / JULIANNE BENTLEY

Above: Central Park, Manhattan. Fourteen KSC students travelled around different neighborhoods in New York City, completing community work. SKYLAR BEDDIE

Contributing Writer I had the honor of going on the Alternative Spring Break trip to New York City this year. We worked with the Medici Project, which has a vision of giving opportunities to as many as possible, helping them cultivate a heart of service, make sense of individual purpose and turn what they love into what they do. Our trip allowed us to work with Medici’s Director of Organizational Development and University Relations, P.J. Simmons, who brought us around the city to work with the Variety Boys and Girls Club, Meals on Wheels, World Vision, the Covenant House and Urban Garden. Our trip allowed us to experience many different types of service, which included working with city’s youth, packaging different school supplies for teachers and nonering food to the elderly and lastly each of the 14 of us were able to receive a different thought process on life. On our trip, we were able to interact with employees, volunteers and the people who were directly receiving help from these organizations while we traveled around New York from Queens, to Brooklyn, to the Bronx, even to the heart of the city in Times Square. While in the city, our group, including our two leaders, Meredith Trabilsy and Julianne Bentley, stayed at the New York School of Urban Ministry. Our team con-

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / JULIANNE BENTLEY

Students volunteered with the Medici Project and worked with different groups such as Meals on Wheels, World Vision and Urban Garden.

sisted of a diverse group of students with different majors as well as backgrounds of our level of involvement of past service opportunities. On this trip, we were all able to think about life in someone else’s shoes. For example, while working with the children at the Variety Boys and Girls Club, many team members were made aware of the current situation for much of New York’s youth. We went into the week thinking that we would be helping the children, but in actuality we ended the week with them helping and changing our lives. In addition, dur-

ing our service work, we were able to take part in changing the lives in a different way than other trips were able to experience. We were not building or doing environmental work, but instead we were able to work one-on-one with the city’s residents in the afternoon, while in the morning we directly worked with the organizations which worked toward supporting them. Our team was able to make a large difference in the community. We were able to participate in many different kinds of service and really see what we were doing.

comments from different individuals who we worked with, such as an elderly man we met while delivering Meals on Wheels. He told us that he "loved us” for bringing him his meal. We also received a similar statement while working at the Covenant House, a youth homeless shelter where we helped organize the clothing warehouse which provided teens and young adults formal attire for interviews. A young man who came into the warehouse while we were working told us that we made him “feel loved.” Personally, I met a young boy at the Variety Boys and Girls Club, where we spent each afternoon of the trip, who I grew close to and was able to put my life into an entirely new perspective. This entire trip allowed me and my fellow teammates to help others while also growing so much ourselves. The connections we were able to make in just a week’s time with the organizations we worked with and with our team were remarkable. We feel like every individual should take advantage of this program and be a part of an alternative break trip, whether it is a weekend, spring break, or winter break. This trip was one of the best opportunities of our lives. Being a part of it was one of the best decisions that we made. We will never forget the memories, the laughs and, most importantly, the impact that we made during this week of service. Skylar Beddie can be contacted at sbeddie@ksc.keene.edu


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New York City, NY Fourteen KSC students

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/ JULIANNE BENTLEY

Alternative Spring Break participants say service trips give students the opportunity to make a difference in the community.

“A young man who came into the warehouse while we were working told us that we made him 'feel loved.'” -SKYLAR BEDDIE ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

ZAK KOEHLER / WEBMASTER


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Week-long trip allows nine girls to fight homelessness in Ohio

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KSC student-volunteers stayed at an apartment right above a community kitchen where they worked for a week in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, one of the largest, most intact urban historic districts in the country. KATIE WYNOT

Contributing Writer This past spring break, I had the best opportunity to lead a group of nine wonderful young ladies to Cincinnati, Ohio, with my co-leader, Kristen. On this trip, our group worked with the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition to combat hunger and homelessness in a community called Over-theRhine. Our group departed in two mini-vans on that Saturday morning of March 15, drove 15 hours with many stops along the way and reached Cincinnati by 10 p.m. that evening. Exhausted and ready for sleep, we unpacked and settled into our new home of the week—an apartment right above Overthe-Rhine Community Kitchen. Our week the following day with a group shopping trip to Kroger’s grocery store, and an exciting walk downtown to explore what Cincinnati had to offer. Following that, our

“We were working alongside with other community members and volunteers who were nothing but friendly and excited to have a group of New Englanders come help in their area.'” -KATIE WYNOT ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

group had the opportunity to hear from an individual who had experienced homelessness for many years. We listened and discussed the repercussions of homelessness with this individual, and he even broke down some of our own stereotypes as well. This was the beginning of the week of emotions and eye-opening experiences we were all eager to have. Throughout the week, our group worked alongside the coalition on various service projects. We had opportunities to work in the community food pantries, soup

did without the opportunity to educate ourselves on the community we were working in. The coalition designs its program to balance both aspects for 'Alternative breakers,' which was a delightful component we all greatly appreciated. From walking social justice tours to an activity on food stamps, our group learned of the challenges and opportunities Overthe-Rhine community has. One impacting educational activity was selling the Streetvibes newspaper, a paper that is printed biweekly that advocates for the homeless community and promotes justice. With this activity, we were given newspapers to sell. Along with it came frustrations, happiness and a new perspective. This offered a time for deep thinking moments and discussions when we would come together to wrap up our day during

kitchens, shelters and homes. We found this form of service the most rewarding, because we were working alongside other community members and volunteers who were nothing but friendly and excited to have a group of New Englanders come help in their area. Sharing stories of their own experiences and some laughs along the way, our group and community members had become familiar friends towards the end. It was a bit- our “rose, bud and thorn” of the day and tersweet farewell by Friday. OHIO, C7 Of course, as mentioned, we could not


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Cincinnati, OH Nine KSC students

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"As a student you will grow and carry all the new skills and opportunities gained on these trips even after graduation," KSC Alternative Spring Break leader Wynot said.

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ending with team acknowledgments these

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had learned, and how we can take this new come back with broader knowledge on im-

“Not only will you have the chance to travel and gain new friendships; you will come back with broader knowledge on important issues our nation faces today.'” -KATIE WYNOT ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

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Katie Wynot can be contacted at kwynot@ksc.keene.edu


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Shady Valley, Tennessee Seven KSC students

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ZAK KOEHLER / WEBMASTER

KSC students stayed at volunteer firefighter Charles McQueen's home in Shady Valley, Tennessee for a week during spring vacation.

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-ZAK KOEHLER ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

“McQueen narrated how there was a battle fought in the Civil War right across the mountains and how in 2002 Shady Valley became primarily a beef-cattle farming area after Tennessee stopped subsidizing tobacco.”

Service trips take 'Keene Staters' to the Appalachian Mountains Webmaster

ZAK KOEHLER

Picture driving between the mountains of Vermont, through the Massachusetts Berkshires, cutting across the Constitution state and crossing the great Hudson River as you spy New York City before entering into New Jersey — and that drive. The destination: Shady Valley, Tennessee— dents nestled in the center of the Cherokee Na-

tional Forest Park. a word that describes Shady Valley by Tenneshis wife: Charles and Helen McQueen. What parking lot at Keene State College on Saturday they say about southern hospitality must have here to legally call it a town. formed over these two. Upon getting out of our cars, we were imme- the amount of history and stories he was able to Tennessee group shivered in the Keene morning

eager to get to know more about him. We began driving through this “community,"

obviously helps a bit with both the task and the nickname. When having enough, he would tell one car to follow and that two of us could go in the truck

Zak Koehler can be contacted at zkoehler@keene-equinox.com

To see full story go to keene-equinox.com

The tilapia, to our astonishment, could be sold to local restaurants at a price that was on par with what you could get at grocery store chains.

a Ford Fusion and Dodge Charger. McQueen narrated how there was a battle fought “We will make it work,” senior Kelsey BumYou could quickly tell these people were hap- in the Civil War right across the mountains and sted said. py with life and loved to draw quick smiles. Taking turns behind the wheel, members of beef cattle farming area after Tennessee stopped group, McQueen was observant to quickly pro- subsidizing tobacco farming. any of them could think of. Charles was an encyclopedia of knowledge. - tiful women for a week. How did you get so pies? How could two of them not have seen lucky?” each other once since they were both living in ity that the Mountain City High School had. meeting Charles at the shop, a tractor selling business that he owns. Walking behind his busi- shop. We will go up there,” McQueen said. Cascading between conversations were the ness, he pointed to a pile of wood poles about smooth licks and melodies of a road trip playlist seven feet tall. dered. that would put most Hollywood Motion Pictures “We have to cut those for the fence. Do you montage scenes to shame. would love to do that.” The aquaculture facility was absolutely tom of the poles into points to make them easier to be hammered into the ground. Whenever Run completely on thermal heat that is captured — where a local child proceeded to point at a we were done, two of the girls would come over, from the ground, this green facility teaches stufew in the group and asked his mother, “Mom... grab them and haul them to the truck; laughing dents to grow, sustain, and sell koi and tilapia their entire way over as they struggled at times to lift the wood. The car rentals crossed the state line into the densely wooded area that was our destination: own, causing my group members to refer to me okee National Forest. Twist and turns ensued as the shadows grew deeper and darker, crossing the road as the sounds of a rushing river could be heard to our right. Making it to the "Fire Hall," what we call a

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Lisa Bryant can be contacted at lbryant@ksc.keene.edu

turtles, survival methods and simply how to live your life doing what you love, thanks to McQueen. We have all a special place in our hearts for Shady Valley, a place we would not have known existed if it were not for The Nature Conservancy. Any stereotypes or pre-notions we had for Tennessee and even the South have been shattered and we only have the upmost respect for that culture and the environment within it. The biggest lesson we learned, that we are happy to share with the rest of KSC, is that it is important to respect and preserve the natural land that we live on, and to absolutely love what you do with the rest of your lives —and hopefully the two go hand in hand.

-LISA BRYANT ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

“The biggest lesson we learned [...] is that it is important to respect and preserve the natural land that we live on.”

Students exchange technology for nature during spring break LISA BRYANT

Contributing Writer Imagine driving into a week ahead of you, greeted by a pitchblack sky, trees surrounding you, no cell phone service and a sign that says the town is “unincorporated.” It sounds scary, but seven Keene State College students had the time of their lives while living technology-less in the heart of Appalachia. Shady Valley, Tennessee, is a community that holds a population of 1,018 people. We had the pleasure of living in close contact with the McQueen family, who has had generations living in the area since the 1800s. Charles McQueen, a volunteer firefighter who works for The Nature Conservancy, let us live in his family’s one-room, lofted cabin for the week. We had a fireplace, wood burner and two lofts for us to sleep in sleeping bags. McQueen told us, “This would be the closest way to live like Daniel Boone, with only a few modern day conveniences.” He was certainly right. We warmed up to the cabin instantly and made many memories within it. Between s’mores, scary stories, family dinners, card games and some of the most amazing three-hour conversations, one can say we had cabin fever in the best way. This allowed for our group to get very close, very fast. During the daytime, we volunteered in a natural cranberry bog, learned the ins-and-outs of the ecological differences of Shady Valley, trekked through Cherokee National Forest, visited an enormous TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) dam, built a fence made of logs, learned about bog

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Student leads weekend service trip to Boston

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“Helping the homeless has become something that I am very passionate about, and it is all because of my experiences working with the Alternative Spring Break program.” -DANIEL JEAN ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT


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Boston, Mass. Ten KSC students

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/ DANIEL JEAN

KSC students help serve meals to the homeless at Boston's soup kitchen "Rosie's Place."

Keene State College helps to feed the homeless in Boston DANIEL JEAN

Contributing Writer

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/ DANIEL JEAN

Students cook dinner at "Rosie's Place." Then, according to Jean, students sat down and shared stories and food with people who came in that night for a meal.

In the month of March, I led a weekend Alternative Break trip to Boston to help with hunger and homelessness. While there, we helped serve food at a local soup kitchen called Rosie's Place located in 889 Harrison Ave, Boston. I was fortunate enough to serve and then eat lunch with an individual named Pat. Pat is a homeless woman dealing with two different types of cancer. She was very skinny and unhealthy, but her outlook on life is far better than any I have ever had. When she was telling me about her life, I could not believe how positive she was. She had been molested as a child, beaten, abused, raped, she did a lot of drugs and drank a lot of alcohol. She used to weigh over 300 pounds. Talking to her that day, she was dangerously underweight, and clean for eight months with a positive outlook on life—I

had to ask her why she was so happy. Pat told me that she has been blessed by God as she is still alive today. She told me that our group members were angels being sent down to assist her and the fellow patrons of Rosie's Place. Being able to interact with the individuals we are helping, and actually getting to see the impact that your service has on the community, is what I believe the Alternative Spring Break program is all about. Helping the homeless has become something that I am very passionate about, and it is all because of my experiences working with the Alternative Spring Break program. Jean's experience occurred during one of the three service trips to Boston the KSC Daniel Jean can be contacted at


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KSC brings hope to New Orleans nine years after Hurricane Katrina

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS / ALLIE BEDELL

KSC students help paint and refurbish a house in the neighborhood of Central City, New Orleans, over spring break.

We don’t think so. It’s why we do what four years. It was a project that had constantly run out of money, we do. We spent the rest of the week hearing from homeownIt seems like a long trek to New Orleans, and it’s cerWe drove through the city until we reached the home in ers, becoming an elite team of fencers as we dug holes and tainly an exhausting commute, but the importance of the the West Bank, far below two massive bridges which run poured cement for fence posts, and teaching a French volAlternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans is immeasur- across the Mississippi and cast a shadow over the neigh- unteer about American pop culture and slang. We stood at the top of the levee and watched the sun set over the able. borhood. In the afternoon of Friday, March 14, fourteen nearWe parked and all stood in awe, looking above at the strangers met at Hoot ‘N’ Scoot to load up the three min- massive steel structure we had just crossed before exiting witnessed a real Mardi Gras celebration in our Central City ivans which would soon be affectionately referred to as the highway. As business life buzzed by above, we pre- neighborhood on St. Joseph’s Day, where Mardi Gras Indipared for a long day of scraping paint in the Louisiana sun. ans danced in the streets in their elaborate hand-sewn cosparty in the back). Through a long night of driving, countAt the end of the day, we toured the Lower Ninth Ward, tumes, celebrating the last true cultural event untouched less Snapchat battles, and a quick mid-trip overnight in one of the most impoverished communities in the country by tourism in the city. We met Mack Ward who has spent Knoxville, we made it to our destination on Sunday night both pre and post-Katrina, as well as the community most the past eight years building a community center for children in the Lower Ninth Ward who are often left unattendfor a quick orientation with the United Saints Recovery affected by the storm. Project. It exists in the shadow of the levee, below sea level, ed in dangerous neighborhoods after school instead of reThe United Saints was established in 2007 when found- where the levee broke in the days following Katrina, wip- building his own home. - ing out nearly the entire population. As the ninth anniverreer in Minnesota to work full-time assisting the city of sary nears, many in the group were stunned to see the des- the team was already plotting a scheme to stay. We fantaNew Orleans recover from the devastating effects of Hur- olation which remains. ricane Katrina. With a particular emphasis on the imporThe “stairways leading to nowhere” are the most haunt- future staying with our friends at the United Saints for the tance of education during service, co-leader Jessica French ing, where entire homes and foundations are wiped away and I knew we were leading our group into a life-changing but the concrete stairs which once lead to a front door. long journey home, several of us had already decided we’ll week. After all, the NOLA trip is prone to creating passion- Empty lots, overgrown yards and debris litter the neigh- be back this summer. ate returners who have caught the United Saints bug, like borhood for acres where homes previously lined the Jess and myself. streets. On the far end of the neighborhood sat the “Brad moments in New Orleans. We went to serve and hopefully On Monday morning, our 6:15 a.m. wake-up call was Pitt houses,” which are massive structures intended to cre- contribute something to the community we worked in, but livened by senior David Draper who happily ran around ate safer living conditions for Lower Ninth Ward residents. left with new friendships and a better understanding of the our apartment singing, “Good morning, good morning! They are controversial because of the modern architecture devastation left by Hurricane Katrina after all these years, despite the nation’s diverted attention. But more than anywhich fails to represent traditional New Orleans homes. laced our sneakers and headed across the street to the UnitThey are a piece of a larger conversation we had all thing, we left with the sense of hope we gained from the ed Methodist Church, located on the corner of First and week: when does service do more harm than help? Is it genuine and inspiring people we met in New Orleans. Dryades, where the United Saints operate from, for breakAllie Bedell can be contacted at fast and work assignments. We were assigned Ms. Stokes’ leave with little knowledge of the culture or real needs of abedell@ksc.keene.edu house, which the Saints had been working on for almost the people you’re helping? ALLIE BEDELL

Contributing Writer


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“We went to serve and hopefully contribute something to the community we worked in, but we left with new friendships and a better understanding of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina [...] despite the nation's diverted attention.'” -ALLIE BEDELL ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

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New Orleans, LA Fifteen KSC students

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/ ALLIE BEDELL

A group of 15 KSC students devote a week to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina.


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Cleansing the Outer Banks during spring break ELLEN LONSDALE

Contributing Writer As an environmental studies major, I was drawn to the environmental based Alternative Spring Break trip to Newport, North Carolina. While there, we worked with three community partners: The North Carolina Coastal Federation, Hammocks Beach State Park and The Pamlico-Tar River Foundation. At the Coastal Federation, we did some general prop-

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"It was great to see that the community is invested in protecting their beautiful surroundings and has a sense of environmental stewardship.� -ELLEN LONSDALE ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK PARTICIPANT

as cleaning up areas of the forest across the street. While at Hammocks Beach, we posted signs for bird nesting sites and shoveled sand that had blown on the boardwalk. ly blessed with the sunshine to start our work with Pamlico-Tar. There, we cleaned up hurricane debris and removed invasive species from a property on the Pamlico River the foundation owns and we were lucky enough to get some kayaking On our days off, we went to the North Carolina Aquarium and spent some time on an island with a beautiful beach and wild horses, which was really cool to see. We also spent a lot of time in Beaufort, N.C., a few towns away from Newport. All of the community partners we worked with were so awesome and appreciative of the work we did that would have otherwise not been completed. It was great to see that the community is invested in protecting their beautiful surroundings and have a sense of environmental stewardship. Eastern North Carolina is an amazing area with great people and I hope to return soon! Ellen Lonsdale can be contacted at elonsdale@ksc.keene.edu

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / ELLEN LONSDALE


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Newport, NC Nine KSC students

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / OLIVIA LYNN

KSC students work to clean hurricane debris on the beaches of Newport, NC., during their spring break.


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More than 60 KSC students devoted their breaks to do community work.ni

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

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-Mahatma Gandhi

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / ALLIE BEDELL

KSC students work to restore a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA.


Alternative Spring Break: 2014  

This is the 2014 Alternative Spring Break pull-out.

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