While spring break is typically considered a time for students to relax and recharge, for Alfred State College (ASC) Pioneers, it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
During their recent spring break, a number of ASC students volunteered for one of two out-of-state civic engagement trips in an effort to help those in need.
On the trip to Myrtle Beach, SC, a group of 11 volunteers were led by Amy Miller, residence hall director, and student leader Elisabeth Rebmann, a human services management major from Attica. Participants included Colin Blatz, mechanical engineering technology, Buffalo; Spencer DiSalvo, heavy equipment operations, Mount Morris; Felicia Fiacco, architecture, Elbridge; Dalton Fries, architecture, Olean; Nicole Grandall, human services, Bath; Rachel Marsh, business administration, DeRuyter; Matthew Murphy, electrical construction and maintenance electrician, Buffalo; Alex Serrano, computer engineering technology, New York City; and Rachel Von Hagn, nursing, Bath.
During the trip, the group worked with Habitat for Humanity of Horry County at a construction site, where they helped build an affordable house for a mother and her three children. The group performed a variety of exterior work, from installing windows, to hammering, to landscaping, as well as interior work such as installing insulation, installing beams, and calking. The trip marked the seventh straight year that the college has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Horry County.
Once the group arrived, Miller noted, the students were ready to “dive head first into construction.”
“I was impressed with how the students were so dedicated to helping,” she said. “The students were eager to get their hands dirty and make an impact on the community. As students who are familiar with hands-on learning, they jumped right into the tasks they were assigned on day one.”
On a separate trip, student leaders RJ Sturtz, a construction management major from Marion, and Esthefany Gordillo, a financial planning major from Woodhaven, led a team of four who partnered with All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response. The group engaged in disaster recovery efforts in Panama City Beach, FL, an area affected by Hurricane Michael. In addition to Sturtz and Gordillo, the group included Grace Jacobs, radiologic technology, Conesus; and Melissa Rene, nursing, Monsey. This was the 24th time that Alfred State has partnered with All Hands and Hearts since 2005.
According to Sturtz, there were three types of crews on site: muck and gut, chainsaw work, and the sanitation crew. Mucking and gutting involved removing materials affected by the flood and hurricane winds, while the chainsaw work entailed trimming hazardous tree limbs and removing trees. The sanitation crew, Sturtz said, came in after the muck and gut crew to remove the mold created by flooding.
Sturtz noted that the group met people from all over the country and the world who were there to make a difference. Many recipients of the aid, he said, were in lower-income brackets and couldn’t help themselves. Once the job was complete, some homeowners occasionally said blessings over the crew or began to cry in joyous relief.
“The greatest impact that I felt I made was giving these individuals hope for a new beginning and a better tomorrow,” he said.