Alternative Spring Break Boasts Unique Experience, Service

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PC: Religious Life. Students sort salvaged food to be redistributed to families in need as part of a massive Oregon state Food Bank initiative.

While many students flood to the beaches or travel out to the week-long getaway of Spring Break 2017, several of our Pacific peers will be serving the community in an “alternative way”. Pacific Religious Life will be hosting an Alternative Spring Break for those wishing to serve over the course of the school break.
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Last year, members of the Religious Life Alternative Spring Break traveled to Portland, Oregon’s Dignity Village, a tiny home village for the transitional homeless to help bring those in need back on  their feet. With the help of the Sierra Service Program, students were set up with lodging and events during the course of their stay. Volunteer students spent a few days finishing work and supporting demolition efforts to renovate a Dignity Village tiny home from 2004. This aid allowed space for a warmer, safer unit to be built in the coming weeks. Dignity Village, as its name implies, provides self-respect while incorporating elements of citizenship and cooperation. Homeless applicants can learn trade skills like carpentry, as well as being a  contributing part of the shelter.
Students also worked with the Oregon Food Bank,  a statewide distribution network of 21 food banks and 970 partnered organizations. Volunteers sorted and collected spoiled or unsold food to give to those in need. Over 15 million lbs are salvaged for sorting and delivering to food banks around the state.
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A third project involved Pacific students working with packaging a water pasteurization indicator. This small, cheap indicator’s primary purpose was to provide homeless with an indicator when water reached 149 degrees, the temperature to achieve clean drinking water. While normal methods of boiling water achieve the same results, the solution of having a wax filler melt to show minimum safe heating levels means this standard would save critical firewood and energy for those needing safe drinking water.

Indicator created as a cheap alternative to prevent waste for homeless creating drinking water. The device melts a wax at 140 degrees instead of the boiling temp of 165. This shows the water has been sanitized and reduced loss of water from evaporation.

Millions of these small devices have been sent with missionaries and organizations educating those about conservation.

Laura Steed says, “It would be cool to have a tiny home village here in Stockton. Dignity Village has a system where bunk beds and units work like dormitories. Homeless transition to units after thirty days by learning the rules of the community.   Community centers house tv’s,  microwaves, and can be used for cooking, showering, etc.
One of the key features of the tiny homes are that each unit gives a person the crucial mailing and physical  address sought by employers. Roles and responsibilities are part of the rent with expectations of  volunteerism incorporated  into living at the community; collecting firewood and grounds-keeping are all self-run. The current President is an elected resident who resides at the time in the village.”
Pacific student Deyanire Del Toro shared her experiences in a reflection, “Before embarking in this enriching journey, I was nervous and a bit scared, about spending a week away from home with people a barely knew. I feared that it would be too hard and too cold; only one of those turned out to be true. Service has always been a part of who I am and I truly enjoy giving back to my community and those in need. However, I never realized how much fun service could be when doing it with others that value service as much as I do. The hard work and dedication that I saw from the ladies on the trip (and Robbie) was truly astonishing. Waking up early, and sleeping late after fun night out on the town, was no distraction from the true reason we were all in Portland; to serve the homeless population there through a variety of programs. Additionally, being able to talk with my group about what makes them who they are, what incentivizes them to work harder, and why they have a strong commitment to service was a great eye-opening experience. To realize that there are others with similar experiences as myself, made me feel like I was a part of something larger…”
 Del Toro summarized, “It definitely will not disappoint. I learned a lot and gained a lot from taking this trip to Portland, Oregon as a part of the Religious and Spiritual Life here at University of the Pacific and hope that other’s are encouraged to dive feet first into this stimulating experience.”
Students interested in Alternative Spring Break can contact Laura Steed at religiouslife@pacific.edu. Deadlines are fast approaching so you will need to request information soon for consideration. This is a truly unique experience and one that will stay with those who were able to partake.
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Jeremy Gottschalk

Editor-in-Chief of The Pacifican 2016-17.
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