Volunteer Experience- Alana Herbrand
Alternative Spring Break
This past spring break, I spent my time in El Paso, Texas, volunteering with two children’s crisis centers with Alternative Spring Break. We traveled for 24 hours straight from Champaign all the way to the LeeMoor Crisis Center, where we stayed for the duration of our week. We were to help the LeeMoor Crisis Center and the Child Crisis Center of El Paso to get things done that the staff was not able to get to, for example, weeding, covering a pipe, putting down gravel in a playground, taking down a swing-set and painting. We also helped create decorations and fundraising items for the Crisis Center’s gala they throw every April for child abuse and domestic violence awareness month. Beyond that, we were able to play with the children in each of these centers every day, able to bond with them and provide some attention—something they did not always get at home. We had to learn to do many of these things—I for one, have never painted an entire house before this trip, nor have I weeded or covered an exposed pipe! But when it came to playing with children, the skill came naturally. They were all so full of life and happiness, and knowing that they were in a better place and away from their broken families or homes was heartwarming to us. I think one way in which I was strong was definitely how I interact with children, as I have a lot of babysitting experience. However, I am not much of a physically-laborious person, and I had trouble adjusting to all of the heavy lifting, bending, climbing and carrying we had to do. Knowing that it was for the centers and for the eventual benefit of the children, though, made it totally worth it. Even in a small way, it meant a lot to us to have made some sort of impact on the kids, and I know it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.