In about a week, Stony Brook students will be on spring break. While some students may go to a crazy party in the hot sun on some beach or simply use the free time to catch up on sleep, Stony Brook’s Alternative Spring Break Outreach will spend the week in Colorado, building houses, removing debris, working at soup kitchens and shelters and volunteering at a local Boys and Girl Club.
In September of last year, Colorado experienced a historic flash flood, resulting in the loss of 1,500 homes and damage to thousands more, according to an article by the Huffington Post. The total damage was estimated to be around $2 billion.
“Our goals on the ASBO trips are to aid communities across the country that need it,” ASBO co-president and senior sociology and psychology major Emily Torkel said. “It offers an amazing opportunity for growth, and it is a great way to spend your spring break doing something productive in both abstract and concrete ways.”
Since joining ASBO in 2010, Torkel has spent all four of her college spring breaks on ASBO trips in New Orleans, Alabama and Mississippi.
“They each have been extremely enriching experiences and life changers,” she said.
Senior and health science major Solomon Yakubov is very excited to go on his first ASBO trip this year after joining the organization last fall.
“We’ve been in need after hurricanes and natural disasters,” he said. “Now this is our time to give back to the community, give back to fellow Americans, fellow human beings.”
Meanwhile, Mackenzie Goodwyn, a senior sociology major, joined ASBO during her sophomore year.
“I felt like I could use my time during the trip to give back to communities in need and not just sit around wasting time on the internet like I had done in the past,” she said.
Goodwyn joined ASBO in Missouri that spring to help with the tornado relief.
“I did not know much about building structures with nails and I got to learn how to use power tools and even hammered my very first nail,” she said.
But this trip to Colorado is different compared to the previous trips in New Orleans, Alabama and Missouri. ASBO has always visited two areas in the country that were hit by natural disasters. However, this year, all 90 members are going to Colorado. Previously, members took a coach bus to their destination. This year, a comfortable plane will be their mode of transportation.
The overall trip, according to Torkel, costs $600 for each member, which includes food and lodging. In addition to their regular USG funding, fundraisers such as a Buffalo Wild Wings Night and a Krispy Kreme fundraiser helped cover the costs of the trip.
This seems like a fun vacation, but to the members of ASBO, it is more.
“While we’re on the trips we might not always stay in ideal living quarters,” Goodwyn said. “But I feel like the energy the participants have during the trips especially on the volunteer sites makes you forget all about the minor inconveniences of our lodging situations.”
“I’m looking forward to helping out communities in Colorado,” Yakubov said.
“If our participants come back to Stony Brook feeling positive and energized, then I feel we achieved our goals,” Torkel said.