KU News Release

March 18, 2010
Contact: Hannah Nusz or Aleese Kopf, Alternative Breaks co-directors, (785) 864-3948

KU students volunteer at 10 Alternative Spring Breaks sites

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LAWRENCE — Eager to give back, 68 University of Kansas students are spending spring break volunteering at 10 sites in eight states.

KU’s student-run Alternative Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that provide opportunities for students to include volunteer efforts in their educational experiences.

This spring, students are working with agencies in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Rhode Island and Texas that focus on disaster relief, homelessness and family issues, human rights, health care, environmental preservation, rebuilding communities, sustainability, education and help for people with disabilities or special needs.

Hannah Nusz, a senior from Kansas City, Kan., and Aleese Kopf, a junior from Lawrence, are Alternative Breaks co-directors. Jordan Lusnak, a senior from Tulsa, Okla., and Alan Schurle, a senior from Manhattan, are the spring break site co-coordinators. Administrative advisers are Linda Luckey, assistant to the vice provost for academic affairs, and Rueben Perez, director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

Following their admittance to the program, students attend weekly classes to prepare for their trips. They may participate in week-long winter or spring breaks or in shorter weekend breaks. The program will add its first week-long Alternative Summer Break between KU’s spring semester and summer session.

The program was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas. Since then it has expanded, with volunteer opportunities being added annually. Alternative Breaks works in partnership with KU’s Center for Community Outreach, a student-run and student-funded organization that manages 16 core volunteer programs plus additional local programs and serves as a coordinating group for KU students interested in volunteer projects.

An Alternative Spring Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program, which now requires students who want to graduate with honors to complete one or two honors units outside the classroom. The program costs participants $275 ($225 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals.

KU participants in this semester’s Alternative Spring Break are listed below by hometown, major, level in school, destination, leadership role, parents’ names and high school.

Sites where students are volunteering:

AIDS Foundation, Houston, Texas
Site leaders: Alex Earles, Assaria and Salina senior, and Liz Raynolds, Prairie Village junior. The foundation works in collaboration with other organizations to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and to support those living with HIV/AIDS. Web site: aidshelp.org

Autism Society of Colorado, Denver, Colo.
Site leaders: Jamie Branch, Topeka sophomore, and Peter Ebeling, Topeka junior. The society was founded in 1970 to fight for the right of students with autism to attend public schools, a goal it accomplished in 1975. Web site: autismcolorado.org

Humane Borders, Tucson, Ariz.
Site leaders: Bailey Reimer, Shawnee sophomore, and Drew Saylor, Topeka senior. An organization devoted to humanitarian aid delivered to immigrants as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Web site: humaneborders.org

Lakeshore Foundation, Birmingham, Ala.
Site leaders: Stephanie Petersen, Lincoln, Neb., senior, and Eric Thibault, Hutchinson senior. A nonprofit organization that promotes independence for people with physically disabling conditions and provides opportunities to pursue active, healthy lifestyles. Web site: lakeshore.org

Lower Nine, New Orleans, La.
Site leaders: Sam Collins, Olathe junior, and Monica Saha, Overland Park junior. The agency trains residents and volunteers in the Lower Ninth Ward in helping rebuild their historic community after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Web site: lowernine.org

Project Live Love, Atlanta, Ga.
Site leaders: Libby Johnson, Lawrence junior, and Emily Owens, Lenexa junior. A nonprofit organization designed to influence culture through the power of love in action. KU students will be volunteering specifically among the homeless in the Atlanta area. Web site: projectlivelove.com

Teach For America, Chicago, Ill., and Philadelphia, Pa.
Site leaders for Chicago: Chris Gordon, Leawood senior, and Hannah Vick, Lawrence junior. Site leaders for Philadelphia: Kelci Shipley, Lincoln, Neb., senior, and Emily Lubarsky, Shawnee freshman. The national corps of college graduates from all academic majors committed to teaching for two years in under-resourced schools. KU students assist first- and second-year teachers. Web site: teachforamerica.org

The Steel Yard, Providence, R.I.
Site leaders: Gwen Cooke, Flossmoor, Ill., junior, and Sam Greenberg, Highland Park, Ill., senior. Situated in a renovated steel mill, the agency coordinates outreach training to equip the homeless with job skills in the steel-working industry. Web site: thesteelyard.org

Volunteers of America Southeast, Mobile, Ala.
Site leaders: Mary Duarte, Hutchinson senior, and Jessica Wothke, Winona, Minn., senior. This is one of 38 local affiliates of Volunteers of America, a national nonprofit spiritually based organization that aims to support and help empower vulnerable groups of all ages. Web site: voasoutheast.org

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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