By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Ashford students are lending a hand in Hurricane Sandy relief this spring break.
Students and staff will be spending their alternative break in Atlantic City, N.J., to help rebuild and revive the area.
“Our goal at Ashford is to educate the whole person, that’s why this is a critical part of preparing our students to go out and be well-rounded individuals,” Dean of College of Business and Professional Studies Charlie Minnick said. “This is a great opportunity and a great bunch of people.”
A group of 21 students and four staff members will work with Community Collaborations International to offer aid to those affected by the tragic event. While much of the clean up is done, the group will assist with the rebuilding of the community by helping out at food banks and homeless shelters. Sleeping on cots and using communal bathrooms, this is no luxury vacation, but for many of the students it is so much better.
“Last year during spring break I just sat around and watched TV,” Derek Deutmeyer said. “It’s better to be able to help out and really take something away from spring break.”
The trip is part of the Office of Service and Leadership, a new department at Ashford. The department, implemented in fall 2011, helps students connect with volunteer and career exploration opportunities throughout the Ashford campus and surrounding communities.
Last spring, students traveled to Joplin, Mo., to help clean up and rebuild the community following the tornado that ravaged the town. Twelve students and two staff members traveled to Chicago this past October to provide support to the poverty-stricken areas of the city. Trips like these offer the opportunity for students from all different backgrounds to travel together and experience the challenges individuals face in other areas of the country.
Students that went on the Chicago service trip got the opportunity to visit the YMCA Head Start Program, Cannan Missionary Food Pantry, Epworth Men’s Shelter and Cornerstone Community Soup Kitchen.
Many of the students have taken part in previous trips either through Ashford or other organizations, which have given them the passion to reach out even more.
“I went on the Chicago trip and had a profound experience,” Tyler Minnick said. “It really put life into a new perspective. People are different, yet we’re all the same.”
Some even had other plans, but decided service to the community was more important.
“I had some plans with friends, but once I heard about this trip I really wanted to help,” Morgan Martells said.
Students interested in participating in the trips must submit an essay explaining why they want to help. For this trip 50 students submitted essays and 21 were chosen. Interest in the service trips continues to grow both among students and staff.
“It’s a great way to bring everyone together and to really make a difference,” Manager of Service Learning Audra Adams said. “This is something the students are really passionate about and it really shows.”
Ashford students and staff members making a difference over their spring break by lending a hand in Hurricane Sandy Relief include Juan Cabrera; Katherine Leffelman; Derek Deutmeyer; Sarah Gans; Dr. Charlie Minnick, Dean, College of Business and Professional Studies; Alivia Hatten; Rachel Yoder; Connor Murphy; Chris Adams; Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach; Audra Adams, Manager of Service Learning; Tyler Minnick, Daniela Herrera; Morgan Martells; Bethany Fett-Dykes, Elizabeth Nardi; Emily Paull; Emily Ramsey; Erika Fisk; Jemila Burton; Jessica Henrichs; Lindsay Aiello; Lisa Green; Sierra Crady; Taaron Courter and Waunita Sullivan, Associate Director of Campus Student Affairs.