By Jane Vottero

For the first time since 2019, Springfield College was back on a normal spring break schedule during the month of March, and students were able to resume participation in the alternative spring break program. This year, a group of volunteers, led by Springfield College Director of the Center for Service and Leadership Charlene Elvers, visited Riverhead, N.Y., to assist with a Habitat for Humanity build.

“It was exciting to finally have the opportunity to travel outside the Springfield area again and watch our students flourish as part of the alternative spring break program,” said Elvers. “Our students want to give back, both in our local community and nationally, and to see their excitement again and watch their passion for service to others really makes me proud to be a part of this program.”

After not being able to travel outside the Springfield area in both 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, students were able to resume their community outreach programs in 2022, an experience that the volunteers certainly appreciated and didn’t take for granted.

“This experience was very fulfilling in knowing that we helped families in need,” said alternative spring break student-leader Nicole Bindell, who is a member of the Class of 2022, a student-athlete, and sports biology major. “As a group, we got to know each other through introspective activities and cooperating on the job site. We worked together to build homes and help create a community within ourselves. This was just an amazing student experience, and we were all so thankful we had the opportunity to experience this volunteer initiative.”

Bindell and her peers spent five days working on a building project assisting with the renovation and construction of an affordable housing option for families in Long Island. This project is unique in that the build is completed solely by college students from around the nation. At the end of the build, a family who has contributed “sweat equity” will be afforded the opportunity for home ownership – a dream of many. College students had the chance to learn about the barriers to home ownership and how this one seemingly small change can have a ripple effect for a family, a community, and a nation.

Historically, the alternative spring break is part of a year-round mission at Springfield College to give back to the local community and to communities throughout the world. 

The mission of educating students for leadership in service to others always remains a constant at Springfield College. Elvers continuously emphasizes to students that in order to be eligible for alternative spring break trips, they have to show a focus and commitment to local community engagement as well.

“Students work extremely hard to organize and plan these trips,” added Elvers. “They host fundraisers throughout the academic year to assist with travel costs. This week of service is just one example of the community engagement efforts Springfield College remains committed to, but giving back truly does take place year round on the campus.”