Arcadia’s Alternative Spring Break Helps Rebuild Homes in Puerto Rico
Arcadia volunteers in Puerto Rico
By Aaron Uscinowicz ’22
As more than 275 Arcadia students and co-leaders headed to destinations around the world on Preview, a group of 16 students, alumni, and staff headed for Yabucoa, Puerto Rico to spend their spring break providing hurricane relief through the Community and Civic Engagement Center’s (CCEC) annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB).
From March 10 to 16, volunteers worked with Saint Bernard Project (SBP), a nonprofit organization that has facilitated relief and reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In three locations of the city, the volunteers helped rebuild houses by painting walls and ceilings, clearing mold, installing new doors, tiling, and repairing roofs and ceilings.
“Trips like ASB expose volunteers to so much more than just physical work,” said ASB student coordinator Nicole Mueller ’19. “We experience firsthand the resilience of the human spirit and the comradery of people from drastically different situations working together toward a common goal.”
CCEC previously worked with SBP on their service program in New Orleans in 2010. While CCEC normally takes groups of 30 or 40 volunteers, this year, only 16 could attended because recovery programs in Puerto Rico can’t support large groups yet.
ASB provides Arcadia students the opportunity to spend their spring break making a difference in underserved communities around the world. Volunteers lend a hand to people in need while experiencing new cultures. Each trip focuses on something new—from disaster relief to building community—but all align with CCEC’s goal to help those in need. Previous locations for ASB include Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico.
“At the CCEC, we strive to raise awareness and action to make life a little better for those in need, while enriching the lives of our volunteers,” said Mueller. “It’s a win-win situation.”