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Staycation gives students meaningful spring break option

Staycation gives students meaningful spring break option

For some students, spring break is a time to relax and unwind with friends and family, either at home or on vacation.

Other students choose an “alternative spring break” — an opportunity to have fun while serving others.

Otterbein’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and Promise House are hosting their annual Alternative Spring Break on campus this week, Feb. 29-March 4, 2016. Participating students are giving their time in service to Faith Mission, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity and GARA (Girls Are Really Awesome), a mentoring program at Walnut Springs Middle School in Westerville.

“I was involved in Staycation last year,” said Otterbein junior Shelby Pacheco. “I got to interact with a lot great people in the community and with this year’s theme of poverty, after volunteering with Promise House on campus, I knew I wanted to do more with my break again.”

Students participating in service Staycation will also have opportunities for teambuilding through meals, hiking and other activities with the group, as well as educational training at Ohio Benefit Bank, where they will learn how to enroll people, including fellow students, in benefits, such as food assistance, tax assistance and other programs. On Thursday, they will be helping Habitat for Humanity build a new home in Whitehall.

Pacheco, along with the CCE Director Melissa Gilbert, spoke with the 2016 Otterbein Spring Networking Conference about student food issues and how Promise House is working to address the needs of those food insecure students with a food pantry and education outreach. The conference was attended by Otterbein faculty and staff from multiple departments and disciplines.

“My favorite part was working at Mid-Ohio Foodbank working directly with clients and talking with them about their lives,” said Pacheco. “I met one women who said she couldn’t afford soap so she made her own from used cooking grease and lye. I gave her a safer recipe that would be better for her skin.”

Spring Break is only one week long, but Pacheco says Staycation students aim to make as much of an impact as they can during that brief classroom interlude.

“The short time that we’ve been at these places I know that we’ve been able to have a real, lasting impact on how people take care of themselves.”

Learn more about the programs and volunteer opportunities at the Otterbein Center for Community Engagement.