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KU News Release

Nov. 10, 2005
Contact: Jenna Sheldon-Sherman.

49 KU students headed for Alternative Winter Breaks service work in five states

LAWRENCE -- Forty-nine University of Kansas students are taking a class this fall to prepare for volunteering Jan. 7-14 at seven Alternative Winter Breaks sites during the KU winter break between the fall and spring semesters. They will work with agencies in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi and Texas that address such issues as health care, domestic violence, environmental preservation, education and help for people with disabilities.

KU's student-run Alternative Winter Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that offer students a unique opportunity to make volunteer efforts part of their university educational experience. Once selected for the program, students must attend sessions of the Special Projects in the Community course. If they complete all course requirements, they can earn two college credit hours. Also, an Alternative Winter Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program that now requires students who want to graduate with honors to complete one or two honors units outside the classroom. The program costs participants $200 ($150 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals at the locations.

Kathleen Daughety, Topeka senior, and Jenna Sheldon-Sherman, Lawrence senior, are Alternative Breaks directors. Zach Carleton, Leawood senior, and Katey Gurwin, Wilmette, Ill., sophomore, are winter breaks site coordinators. Carleton and Gurwin selected the sites, six are locations where KU Alternative Breaks volunteers had participated previously. KU students will be making their first visit to The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi, Mississippi Gulf Coast site at Gautier, Miss. All seven sites are described below.

Alternative Breaks was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas, and has expanded to include winter, spring and weekend break programs. More sites and opportunities to volunteer are added every year. Alternative Breaks works in partnership with KU's Center for Community Outreach, a student-run and student-funded organization that runs 12 volunteer programs and serves as a coordinating group for KU students and student groups interested in volunteer projects.

Faculty advisers for Alternative Breaks are Linda Luckey, assistant to the senior vice provost, and Rueben Perez, assistant dean of students and director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center. Perez teaches the Special Projects in the Community course, assisted by Hannah Abelbeck, program coordinator for KU's Center for Service Learning.

KU student participants in the Alternative Winter Breaks program are listed online by name, hometown, major, level in school, parents (when available) and high school attended. The Web site is

January 2006 Alternative Winter Breaks site descriptions:

AIDS Foundation Houston, Houston, Texas, seven participants
AIDS Foundation Houston works in collaboration with other AIDS services to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and to support those infected with HIV/AIDS. Participants will have the opportunity to be involved in many of the foundation's specific support programs, including the center's soup kitchen and an educational outreach program to distribute safe-sex packets.
The Web site is

Audubon Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch, Elgin, Ariz., seven participants
The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch provides a sanctuary for wildlife and facilities for research of desert grasslands. Participants will build wildlife-friendly fencing, remove non-native plants and help with restoration and repairs. This project involves manual labor, and students will stay at an on-site lodge.
The Web site is

Give Kids the World, Kissimmee Fla., seven participants
Health/terminal illness
Give Kids the World Village is a nonprofit wish-granting resort facility that creates memories for children with life-threatening illnesses. Since its founding in 1986, it has welcomed children and their families from all 50 states and 50 countries. Volunteers will work in the village resort doing a variety of jobs from operating rides, planning family activities or helping at concession stands.
The Web site is

Southwest Women Working Together, Chicago, Ill., seven participants
Domestic violence
Southwest Women Working Together serves the racially, ethnically and economically diverse area of south and southwest Chicago. Founded in 1975 by board members of the Chicago YWCA to address domestic violence, SWWT is the only community-based women's organization in the area with a paid staff dedicated to providing supportive resources for women and their families. Among its direct services, SWWT offers a women's shelter, children and family services, empowerment training, advocacy support and other tools to help women and their families lead self-sufficient, violence-free lives. Volunteers will assist SWWT staff with the organization's outreach and educational programs.
The Web site is

Teach for America, Chicago, Ill., seven participants
Teach for America is the national corps of college graduates coming from all academic majors committed to teaching for two years in urban and rural under-resourced schools. Participants will shadow a member of the Teach for America team in Chicago's lowest-income neighborhoods, working directly with students and staff in classroom, extracurricular and community activities.
The Web site is

The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Gautier, Miss., seven participants
Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi has been working to protect more than 130,000 acres of critical plants, animals, nature land areas and ecosystems in Mississippi. The community-based Mississippi Gulf Coast project is part of the chapter's South Mississippi Conservation Program. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Mississippi shorelines have been littered with debris and hazardous materials. The KU volunteers will be working on cleanup and trail restoration to return the nature preserve areas to their pre-hurricane condition.
The Web site is

United Cerebral Palsy of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas, Texas, seven participants
United Cerebral Palsy of Metropolitan Dallas works with people of all ages and backgrounds as it seeks to improve the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Participants will have the opportunity to personally interact with children and adults, assisting them with everyday activities and providing them with emotional support.
The Web site is


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