Alternative Spring Break: Students travel to New Orleans

Eight University of Providence students traveled during spring break to New Orleans, Louisiana to rebuild homes for residents who fell victim to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Students worked as a team to help reconstruct some of the 28,000 homes destroyed by what’s been deemed the costliest natural disaster in US history. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by the hurricane and property damages estimated at a staggering 81 million dollars.


As a way of aligning themselves with the poor, students gave up more than just spring break for their New Orleans mission trip, with instructions to leave behind all electronic devices, including cameras, cell phones, ipods, watches and make-up. Part of the mission taught students to live simple, with each student given $3 per day for food in an attempt to experience first-hand the poverty being faced by survivors. The intended goal for the trip was to focus attention on a community-in-need, practicing the University’s message of “uncommon courage” while working together as a team and other volunteer groups, in a joint effort to bring a vibrant and self-sustainable recovery and rebirth to the region.


Habitat for Humanity

Catherine Gray, a sophomore, English and Art major participated in the Alternative Spring Break for the second time.  She stated, “I think it is really important that the school has this opportunity to offer.  This is a more meaningful way to spend Spring Break and I am grateful for the school for funding it and offering us a way to reach out to those in need.”

During their five days in Spokane, students received an orientation to Habitat for Humanity and visited some of the sites where houses have been built, as well as visited future construction sites.

Students spent the majority of their time helping with the organization of a new Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The ReStore sells to the public new and slightly used building materials, appliances, furniture and home furnishing at a fraction of the retail price. Funds generated at the ReStore are used to serve families and change lives.
In addition to their service at Habitat for Humanity, students visited the elderly and retired Sisters of Providence at Mount St. Joseph Residence in Spokane.  Students also had the opportunity to attend Mass and share lunch with the Sisters.
Students celebrated Mardi Gras on Tuesday, followed by a morning Mass on Ash Wednesday before returning to the University of Providence.
The Alternative Spring Break gives students from the University of Providence the opportunity to be part of the Providence Health & Services mission, serving the poor and vulnerable. They will spend the majority of the time with each other, building a bond as they help others.

This was the second year the University of Providence offered an Alternative Spring Break.


El Salvador Mission Trip

Ten University of Providence students spent part of their winter break on a mission trip, volunteering their time to build a home for a needy family in El Salvador

Last spring a number of students expressed interest and brought to the table the idea of a mission trip. They wanted to do something more to assist those in need.  “Since coming to the University of Providence, I have realized how important service work really is. I feel like this is a way for our school, as a Catholic University, to get out there and perform service work and show our Catholic identity,” noted Andrea Spake, a sophomore Biology Major.

Once the trip was posted, it filled up within two weeks.
Upon their arrival in El Salvador, they traveled to the small community of Angelo Montano, which is one of the poorest, underserved communities in the region. This is where they began construction of a two bedroom home for a homeless family that has been instrumental in helping others build their homes.
During their time in El Salvador, students also participated in a variety of activities. They visited with families and survivors of the Salvadoran Civil War, worked with children on reading, and visited a hospital.
In addition, the students had the opportunity to meet Father Dean Brackley, educator at Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), a Jesuit University in San Salvador. They also visited the U.S. Embassy and the location where Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred.

Emily Busby, a sophomore History Major and a Political Science and Sociology Minor, stated, “This trip to El Salvador was important to me because it was a humbling experience. I was able to see first-hand what it is like to have nothing. I experienced the culture and learned for myself how to be a humble person.”


Haiti Relief Efforts

Directly following the January earthquake in Haiti, University students collected money that was sent to Providence Health International, a ministry of Providence Health & Services, the parent organization of the University, in an effort to provide assistance and relief funds to those affected by the Haiti earthquake. Students also raised awareness of the needs in Haiti disaster and came up with the idea for the Alternative Spring Break. Students wanted to take a more proactive approach and do what they could to help in the Haiti relief efforts.


Students worked at the Providence Health International warehouse, loading medical supplies and other necessities that will be sent to Haiti.   Providence Health International manages a warehouse in partnership with other Catholic health systems and international development organizations. The warehouse receives and prepares medical donation for shipment to hospitals and clinics in other countries.
Over the week, students also participated in a variety of activities. Students learned about the issues of human trafficking and participated in a silent prayer vigil in downtown Seattle to stop the demand and raise awareness of the issues surrounding human trafficking.
Students also worked with children in need and served meals to the homeless and hungry. Additionally, students worked with the L’arche Community, where they interacted and worked with developmentally disabled adults. The students actively practiced the core values at the heart of the L’arche Community: loving, compassionate and forgiving relationships. They concluded their day with an evening of bowling with L’arche Community members.
Students also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of prayer and worship styles, including Gospel Mass at Saint Therese in Seattle, as well as attending a beginner yoga meditation class and Taize prayer at Seattle University.  In addition, students participated in evening vespers at the Church of the Apostles.
This was the first year the University of Providence offered an Alternative Spring Break.