Alternative Spring Break Outreach (ASBO) was the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Organization Award” at the 2015 Student Life Awards. Every spring break, ASBO does community service for a region that is in need of volunteer labor.
During the most recent spring break, 81 ASBO members constructed houses with Habitat for Humanity in Fort Myers, Florida. The group split up among the six adjacent houses in order to accomplish the work needed, which included dry-walling, painting, insulating and more.
“We could only volunteer for a week, but our memories helping with those homes will last a life time,” said ASBO President Mohammed Ahmad.
This year marks ASBO’s tenth anniversary. The club was created in late 2005 by students who wanted to lend a hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Following three years of aiding New Orleans, ASBO has spent each spring break travelling to different locations that need volunteer efforts. The club has often done relief work for areas ravaged by natural disasters. The official mission is to “promote critical thinking, social action, and civic engagement for a lifetime by combining education, reflection, and direct service on the national level.”
At the 2014 Student Life Awards, ASBO was given both the “Distinguished Service Award” and the “Community Service Program Award.” Last year, 87 ASBO members flew to Estes Park, Colorado, and cleaned up debris left from the September 2013 flood.
“Since this was ASBO’s tenth year on campus, our goals included doing more and reaching out to our community beyond spring break,” Ahmad said.
ASBO’s 2014-2015 executive board instituted an endeavor for the club to do more volunteering locally beyond the time frame of spring break. During a weekend last winter break, a small group of ASBO members worked on Hurricane Sandy relief work with United Way of Monmouth County in New Jersey. Since returning from the Florida spring trip, ASBO members did a beach beautification project for “I Love My Park Day” and painted a home in Babylon that was affected by Hurricane Sandy.
To reduce the price of the spring break trip for participants, ASBO held fundraising events and presents individual fundraising opportunities to members. For the 2014-2015 year, ASBO collected close to $6,000 from events, and the general body collectively sold more than 500 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts as part of an independent fundraiser. Despite these efforts, each ASBO participant has to pay around $600 out of pocket to go on the spring trip. A goal for the e-board and the club’s faculty advisor, Christine Noonan, is to lessen that cost in the future.
The new e-board for the 2015-2016 year plans on continuing the effort to organize and conduct more local service projects during weekends and the winter break.
“Currently the group is in the planning stage, but we are confident they will make the 2015-2016 year more enjoyable and exciting,” Ahmad said.
— Joe Malone; photos courtesy of ASBO