Students travel to Mississippi to volunteer for alternative fall break

Posted on: November 8, 2013

Fall break at Tennessee Wesleyan College is a welcome bit of time off for most students. For a few, it's an opportunity to volunteer that time by providing community service.

Fall break at Tennessee Wesleyan College is a welcome bit of time off for most students. For a few, it’s an opportunity to volunteer that time by providing community service. During this year’s October fall break, 14 students, two staff members and TWC’s AmeriCorps VISTA traveled to Biloxi, Miss., to donate their fall break time to volunteer at various service programs throughout the city.
 
Sponsored by TWC’s Student Government Association, students Drew Akens, Edith Barajas, Isabella Daniels, Tiffany Dierden, Caitlin Dryer, Mathew Gentry, Jasmine Hickman, Alex Hoffman, Kate Lowe, Lisa Munoz, Mariana, Perini, T.J. Pike, Nathan Reed, and Laetitia Sabiti paid $25 each for travel expenses and made the eight-hour drive to Biloxi where they served various programs around the city.
 
Accompanied by TWC Director of the Center for Servant Leadership Mandie Thacker Beeler, Director of Student Activities Kerrie Lynn, and AmeriCorps Vista Matt Harper, the fourteen TWC students volunteered with underprivileged children and adults.
 
“This trip showed me that hunger and poverty are not only right in my own backyard, but are also spread throughout the country and the world,” said Matthew Gentry, a TWC junior biology major.
 
“My time in Mississippi made me think more about what I can do for others rather than what I can do for myself. I would highly recommend alternative break trips to college students.”
 
Tennessee Wesleyan alternative break trips allow students to travel to economically, culturally, and environmentally diverse locations all across the United States and provide service-learning opportunities working with important issues such as the environment, education, immigration, poverty, and other unmet human needs.
 
At the Moore Community House (MCH) in Biloxi, students worked in Early Head Start classrooms, where they prepared and served lunch for the children and teachers, developed learning activities, and decorated the classrooms.
 
At the MCH Women in Construction program, which is designed to teach low-income women the skills needed to join the construction trade, students power washed buildings, pruned shrubbery, and helped build a new educational facility for participants of the organization.
 
On their last day in Miss., the students volunteered with Loaves and Fishes, a community kitchen dedicated to feeding Biloxi’s poor and hungry. The students served breakfast and lunch, cleaned and reorganized the freezer and storage areas, and spent time talking with the clients of the organization.
 
“This 2013 alternative fall break trip was a wonderful opportunity for students to collaborate next to staff members and work toward a great cause,” said Kerrie Lynn, TWC director of student activities.
 
“The best part for me was serving food to people in need because it was more than just dishing out food. We were able to sit and talk with those individuals and truly learn from their personal stories. It has sparked numerous conversations back on the TWC campus, inspiring the staff and students to do more of that type of volunteer work.”
 
For more information about TWC alternative fall and spring break trips and servant leadership, visit http://www.twcnet.edu/academics/service/alternative-break-trips/ or contact TWC Director of the Center for Servant Leadership Mandie Thacker Beeler by phone at 423-746-5244 or by email at mthacker@twcnet.edu.