Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From a "Chaperonie"

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

As a proud member of the Framingham State University community prior to the trip, it was enlightening to join such a motivated group of our students in Joplin and fortify that sense of pride. I was a last minute addition to the chaperones, and wasn’t sure what to expect. However from the one pre-trip meeting I attended to introduce myself to the initial meet up at Logan International, I could tell by the level of energy and enthusiasm that the adventure would be one for the books. At first glance, the sociable demeanor of all the students led me to believe that this was a group of friends. I was shocked that this group was pieced together through an application process, joining together a diverse group of strangers and acquaintances. Many of the students have posted that we became a family. The close quarters certainly encouraged and solidified a unique bond between us. I’m sure the lack of personal space, privacy, and individual free time contributed to the camaraderie. However, I am convinced it was more so the fact that we all share the same compassion for humanity. Connecting on such an emotional level and comforting each other throughout this experience revealed a sentiment and sense of vulnerability that normally gets pushed aside. We were able to take part in rebuilding a community and experience the results on a tangible and personal level. We saw the house get a fresh coat of paint, a beautiful new garden, and the whole exterior of the property became a home again. More importantly, in my opinion, we witnessed the gratitude of the entire community of Joplin through countless measures of appreciation, from the verbal thanks, to the free facilities that the wonderful “Animal” and friends let us utilize, to the monetary donation the “man in red” gave us that very first night. We all felt the gratefulness, and were humbled. I think all of us agreed that we were the fortunate ones and were thankful for the experience. Personally, I learned to look at the bigger picture. People say “don’t sweat the small stuff”, but it’s easy to forget what the small stuff is. It took a trip of this nature to remind me that my everyday frustrations might be considered a good day for others. I am blessed to have the life I live. I am alive and well with a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I work at a University that not only encourages its students to get out and explore and contribute, but its staff members as well. I cannot think of a better way to spend a week’s worth of my vacation time. I would like to thank the other 25 trip members for this once in a lifetime opportunity, for welcoming me at the last minute, for the support and many laughs on the trip, and for making me feel more connected to FSU.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Week I will Never Forget

You will often hear college students saying they spent their spring break in Cancun or Florida, but for me, I spent my Spring Break in Missouri. Sure at first it doesn’t sound very exciting, but for me it was a life changing experience. I didn’t know what to expect from any of this. While in Boston waiting for our flight to depart it was snowing just overall depressing. I just wanted to get to Dallas. Once in Dallas it was raining, we even had to wait a good two hours because of maintenance problems. It was a long day of travelling but when we finally got to Joplin it was beautiful and sunny. I saw it as a sign of hope.
After a long day of traveling and we were finally in Joplin we went out to eat at Pizza Hut. On our way in a man sitting down enjoying his meal noticed our large group of 26 people and asked where we were from and we told him Massachusetts. After finishing our food we were told that he paid $100 of our meal. Then after that the manager came outside to personally thank us for what we were doing and he told us that he lost six of his friends and four of his employees. This was just the first night in Joplin and these two people showed me how much they truly appreciate people like us helping restore Joplin.
The next day, it was a Sunday, was supposed to be our first day on the worksite. It was raining that morning so instead we drove around Joplin to see the tornado damage. I heard about the tornado, I saw pictures, I even saw a video of the destruction, but it didn’t hit me until I saw it for myself. These neighborhoods were neighborhoods just like mine and their homes were taken away from them in just a matter of minutes. After all of this they kept hope and stayed strong, Joplin Strong. Even on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a young child said, “Material things don’t matter, family is what matters” or something like that. Just knowing that made me appreciate everything I had so much more. It wasn’t until we reached the high school, that I almost broke down, and I don’t cry. When I saw the sign read “Hope High School” I knew that even though the schools were taken away from these kids they still had hope. Schools were opened not too long after the tornado and these kids were still able to get an education. After taking all of this in Molly came up to me asking me for an interview. I honestly didn’t know what to say it was so much to take in at once so I sounded like an idiot on camera. After that interview I knew I had to take those words and put them into actions. I wasn’t in Missouri on a vacation I was there to help restore Joplin, I was there to make a difference.
The house to my surprise was bigger than I thought it would be. The only problem was that we had to share two bathrooms between 26 people, 22 of them being girls. Growing up with one bathroom and two sisters I knew what I was in for, just times 11 (that’s the math in me). As soon as we got there people started claiming beds, but I didn’t mind where I slept so I ended up taking the floor. It was cool though, because of the bond that Jorge and I made we ended up switching off every night between the top bunk and the floor. Living in such a small house with 26 people we got really close really fast. I learned everyone’s name by the first night and by the end of the trip I got to know everyone. By the end of the trip it was safe to call ourselves a family. Because of this new family I truly grew as a person. I definitely came out of my shell and came out of my comfort zone. I am absolutely terrified of heights and what did I end up doing, I zip-lined and jumped a 100 foot free-fall. That same day even though I have stage freight I rode a toy horse in front of hundreds of people and earned myself a medal. By the end of the show a man said to me, “Hey son, I paid my money’s worth to watch you win that horse race!” It made my night.
We did a lot of work on Rhonda’s house; we cleaned up, weeded, chipped paint, painted washed the house, sanded, caulked, replaced some pieces of wood, and made a flower garden. I even got to use a nail gun! After four days, we were able to do so much even though we were powered by a strict diet of cereal for breakfast, and pb &j sandwiches for lunch. When it was our last day, I will never forget the look on Rhonda’s face after we finished. We all even got a hug from her, after we gave her a picture to remember us. She even just recently sent Angel a message saying, “I believe you are in my front yard now!!! I love each of you for your time, care and giving of your time to help us here in Joplin. God Bless each of you. Each of you are truly amazing." We had such a big impact on her and knowing that I made a difference in her life changed my life forever.
It was a life-changing experience. I made new friends, a sonic buddy, and overall a new family. Now I am that guy that always holds the door for people behind me. I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect before going on the trip but now I can say that I wish I could relive every moment of it.


Lets build a time machine and relive ASB 2012.... PLEASE!!! :)

Sitting in the airport, itching for departure, all I could think about was the people we'd be meeting, the smiles we'd share, and the life long memories we'd create. The hope this community holds is inspiring and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work! Along the trip I kept a journal of a couple key things that stuck out to me at the end of each day. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Day two: Today was our first day up and about in Joplin. We visited the tornado path. Seeing all the destruction was devastating. There were so many emotions going through me at one time, that I didn't really know how to react. After literally being torn out of their homes and having their community ripped to pieces, Joplin remained strong. Even after a year, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, so its just amazing to me to see all these people always so incredibly joyful and nice. It's apparent that material things don't mean a thing to these people; it's all about having each other. Hope is something that is never lacking in this community; it's the glue that holds them together. Hope high is the perfect example of how new beginnings aren't too far off. With that realization, a spark lit up inside of me, I was inspired, touched, and motivated. Nothing was stopping me from giving this my ALL.

Last day: :( Today was our last work day, its bitter sweet. I mean it’d be nice to have a shower or maybe some more room, but at the end of the day all I want to do is stay here with my 25 new brothers and sisters. I had the most amazing time, well amazing isn't even the right word because it was greater than that. I just wanna give a shout out to all the trip leaders for being spectacular. I also want to thank the fabulous chaperones for being on their game! What an experience this was. :) I really can't begin to fathom that this trip is already coming to an end. Coming into this we were all strangers, but now were a family.
Experiencing such a trip has really put things into perspective for me; I appreciate more than I ever did before. It's chilling to think about how much faith and hope lies in this community. It gives me goose bumps. Being here and actually getting some eye action with all the damage that was done motivates you even more to work so much harder. I just want to help restore this community and give them even more of a reason to smile. After all a life without hope is a life thats hard to live and that’s why I think Joplin has so much of it. They continue to prove to me that no matter how bad things get they always get better, especially when you smile along the way.

I have learned so much on this trip, and if I could go back this very moment, I SOOOOO would! Always take every day with a smile and live in the moment, because you never know what tomorrow holds. Be passionate in everything you do, and always let your heart shine. I'm inspired to be a better person because all of you.

Love always,
Lizzie :) <3

Monday, March 26, 2012

"We can burn brighter than the sun"

I can't believe it's been a full week since we came back from Joplin. It feels like it was yesterday. Alternative Spring Break was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'll take the many lessons I learned during our week in Joplin, Missouri with me wherever I go. And not just metaphorically! I got my tatto, a spiral sun, in Joplin so that each time I look at it, for the rest of my life, I will remember the beauty and kindness of the people in Joplin. Although it was premeditated, my tattoo, in part, is for the people of Joplin who, although victims themselves, were the first to show kindness to us, a group of students from halfway across the country. It's for the man at Pizza Hut who put $100 towards our meal, even though he didn't look like he had an extra $100 dollars to give. It's for the manager of Pizza Hut, who ran into the parking lot after us to thank us, even though he didn't need to go out of his way. It's for Rhonda, who could still smile throughout it all. And, finally, it's for the amazing people from Framingham State who I met on this trip, and whose big hearts and desire to help their fellow man have, in turn, helped me to realize that life is short, but meaningful and beautiful nonetheless. Thank you, fellow ASBers. Wherever life takes you, I hope you'll let your inner sunlight shine through. :)
I can't wait to do it again! And for my mom's sake, I hope I won't feel the need to get a tattoo on each trip! ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Is this real life?

So we have been home for about a week now. It was one of the hardest transitions getting back on the daily grind. I was so excited to go back to school and see all of my friends and most importantly, my fellow asb family. We would see one another and jump all over each other with hugs. My friends from here began to think I was crazy because we were all obsessed with each other. I had to explain to them numerous times "When you go from living together for a week to not at all, you miss your family!" Even when I got home from the airport and was just home for one night, I went stir crazy over how much I missed being in our tight quarters and just being a family. Although I will admit, having my own bathroom again was a godsent. LOL
All I can say is Miss Molly Goguen was completely right... It was so hard to focus last week! I kept thinking "last week at this time we were ziplining" or just remembering other things we were doing. I just could not focus at all... and when you have to complete an 18 page paper due the Thursday we got back, yeah it was almost impossible. But I managed and I finally put up all of the pictures on facebook on Thursday night! I would not let myself do it before I passed in that paper; that had to come first!
Words cannot describe this experience. I now walk into Wal*Marts and want to cry because of the good times we had, I look through pictures and laugh at all the good times and I hear Adele and We are Young and I blast it and sing it at the top of my lungs. Whenever family or friends ask me how the trip was I immediately say "It was the best week of my life." And that's because it was. We all went on this barely knowing each other and we came back a family. This was by far one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. We laughed together, we cried together, we ate together, we rode together and most importantly, we worked together as a team.
Just the feeling of knowing you are making a difference, no matter how big or small, is amazing. Rhonda was such a grateful, kind hearted woman with a big smile. Getting to know the woman and her family whom we were helping just made the work so much more worthwhile. I am now back in Massachusetts and try and think of the smallest acts of kindness to take on whether it is picking up a piece of trash or holding the door open or simply just saying hi to a stranger. Any act, no matter how big or small can make a difference This was one experience I will remember forever and ever and ever and ever. I still get sad thinking about how it has already come and gone, but in Dr. Seuss's words
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"
... I should probably go get some homework done... Love you all!
~Erin the Elephant :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back to the Daily Grind

Okay, so time to blog. I have never been good at putting my feelings down in writing (sorry for my horrible motivational mailboxes BTW) which is why I had avoided doing it for so long. That and I had a pile of work waiting for me on my return to school.
ASB was pretty much the best thing I have ever done. That is a heavy statement but it is totally true. I almost backed out before we went on the trip because I have never been the most social person and barely knew anyone who was going on the trip. That really freaked me out. But I knew that I would just sit around all spring break playing Skyrim if I didn't go so I stayed in. I am so glad I did. Everyone on ASB was friendly, and sharing a bathroom with 26 other people really makes you connect with them. So did all the group bonding that we did on the trip. Normally group bonding is the worst experience of any program that I have been a part of before but somehow for this trip it was actually enjoyable, so congratulations to whoever came up with those.
My favorite part of ASB was spending time with wonderful people and working to get something done. We made that house look gorgeous. I also really enjoyed the car rides. For me that seemed like the time that we got the most bonding in. Rocking out to the same songs over and over and over will do that to you I suppose. I also really enjoyed the ice cream truck coming by. It was a very little part of the whole trip but it just reinforces how perfect everything was. For being so nervous at the beginning and dreading being totally socially awkward for a whole week, it was a fantastic break. Everyone we met was so nice, the people at the liquor store letting us use their bathroom, Howie and Scott, even the people at Pizza Hut. Truly the experience of a lifetime.
Now, being back at school is not as relaxing as I thought it would be. I find it so hard to focus on my school work when all I want to go is work on a house. I have never been one to enjoy school anyhow which makes this even worse. My anthropology paper on cannibalism will not make anyone's day better. Hopefully this weekend will re-energize me and get me back on track, school work wise, and I will just have to look forward to all the volunteer opportunities that come my way.

Laura Hardy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A collage I made of some of my favorite moments and symbols from the trip (of course I've yet to finish writing about the trip-but I'll get to that!) :)


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An amazing video I found-definitely worth watching.

The Kind Souls of Joplin and ASB

There are a great number of things that stuck out about this trip to me, however when I try to pinpoint the moments that left the greatest impressions, most have to do with individuals we met along the way or members of our own group. Everywhere we went and everything we did it seemed as if at least one more person was backing our mission, supporting and rooting for us. These kind people only further supported the ideals of ASB by lending a helping hand. It is impossible to deny the generosity the group has seen and shared throughout this year’s journey.   

Some of the kind souls we met along the way were - Dave and Dale Sampson who allowed a group of excited eager kids to stay at their house the night before and drove them to the airport in the morning, the stranger from Pizza Hut who put $100 to our bill after learning what we were doing, the manager who began to get choked up when telling us how grateful he was to have people still helping, , the wonderful workers at Feerick’s Westside Liquor store (especially you Animal J) who allowed us to invade their bathroom for an entire week, Emma and the crew from Branson Zipline who made sure Joplin was able to go ziplining and donated bracelets to our group, the fantastic workers at Starbuck who supplied us with caffeine for the work day, Mrs. Knox who greeted the group at Logan with flowers for all, our dear friends Scott and Howard who guided us along our way, and of course Rhonda herself for allowing us to be a part of the efforts to Restore Joplin. There are many more people we were fortunate enough to meet over the journey. Thank you all for the support and help you offered us, you helped us worker harder, longer and stronger.

The group of 26 individuals who embarked on this journey has left the largest mark on my heart. I am so proud and impressed by the group of young, hardworking, good willed and determined individuals I was able to work and travel with. It was an honor to work alongside you as you devoted your efforts and energy into improving the life of strangers. You all inspire me to be better, work harder, joke more, believe in humanity and to love the lives we are given. I care deeply about all of you and each and every one of you holds a very special place in my heart from here on out. The things we built – relationships, a stronger home, a brighter future, a new sense of hope, and our own family – cannot and will not ever be destroyed. Let us continue to love one another, remain flexible, humorous, hardworking, and generous. May you continue to make this world a more connected, more hopeful, kinder and overall better place. Remember, you do not need to be on a work site to perform acts that make this world a little bit nicer, more loving and accepting place. Thank you all for sending me off on my last ASB with a full heart, exceeded expectations, stronger belief in humanity and a stronger understanding of what it means to give and receive love, support and faith. I love you all.

We are not longer a group of strangers, we are a family dedicated to one common goal and we supported and guided each other through the emotional, eye-opening, exhausting, and empowering experience that is Alternative Spring Break. Once again, ASB has changed lives, including my own. Thank you all for this beautiful, inspiring journey. I could never thank you enough.

<3 Kendra Dale

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My ASB experience

     Rather than blog throughout the trip I kept a journal going in a word document. When we arrived back at FSU I took a look through at all the wonderful memories I had documented. It seemed like so long ago when Alex and I were sitting in Mad Willies for 2 hours after being kicked out of the dorms. It made me realize how much we accomplished in such a short amount of time. I decided the best thing to do would be to write about my favorites.
     The first full day we spent in Joplin was one of the most emotional experiences of the trip. It was unreal to see how much damage occurred in such a short amount of time. The only way I can put it into words is to compare it to a bomb. There were areas of the town that were completely leveled, no trees, no homes, nothing. I cannot imagine what it is like to be a resident of Joplin and drive through town seeing that everyday. It must bring back so many memories that people must want to forget. The last leg of our mini tour was to see the high school. Being there hit me harder than anything else. It made me think of my high school and what it would be like to go home and see it as a pile of rubble. A high school is typically the heart of a town and to see the high school in Joplin destroyed was heartbreaking.
     Meeting Rhonda and spending time working on her house was inspiring. To see the debris that had blown into her yard from the hospital down the street put into perspective the power of the storm. It felt so rewarding to help someone who needed it and to see how grateful she was that we were there. I loved watching the house change day by day. I helped to build a garden in the front of her house so she would have something beautiful to look out her window at. Seeing how happy she was that we were there touched me. It made me realize even more that the smallest person can make the biggest impact in the life of another.
     Our day off in Branson was a blast. I had never been ziplining before but it was the coolest thing ever! We all had a blast and even Joplin got to go (twice). After ziplining we spent time in the Branson landing. We got to walk around the shops and take in the sights. For dinner we went to the Dixie Stampede. We had to eat with our hands which bothered me, but I put on a smile and did my best to eat. The show was pretty entertaining and so different from anything we have up north. The best part was watching our fellow ASBers race around the arena representing the south.  It was an experience I will not forget.
     While there are many more incredible experiences I could write about, there is one thing that sticks out in my mind even more; the people of Joplin and all that they taught me. Being surrounded by devastation made me think about my own life. It really made me realize that materials and possessions do not matter as much as we normally think they do. Some people in Joplin lost everything. However, they are grateful and resilient and just happy to be alive with their family. This made me realize that it wouldn't matter how big my house was, where my house was, or how much money my family had. All that matters is that you surround yourself with the people who love you. As long as you have them by your side everything will be alright. Joplin proves that by sticking beside one another, you can overcome any obstacle life puts in your path. I am so thankful that my life was touched by the residents of that community. I truly believe that they impacted me, more than any impact I or ASB as a group could have had on them.

This is not the end, it's only the beginning.

Molly was totally right when she said for the next couple of weeks you will have withdrawls from ASB. You will want to wake up and work on a house, and make a small change. She was totally right about that. I woke up wondering why there were no alarm clocks waking me up or the slams of the doors from the bathroom. I already miss that place and it hasn't even been a whole day.
  This past week was one of the greatest experience I have ever been through. I have never known that a whole pack of 26 people could become so close within 7 days and make such a small but moving change in someone's life. There have been so many memories filled with tears, smiles, laughter, and hardwork. And I will never forget my Spring Break of 2012 due to each and every special person that was able to spend such a great week with. Joplin has left such a huge impression on my life, one that I will never forget. I was absolutely blown away by Joplin's strength and faith throughout all their struggles. Joplin really opened my eyes that material things are nothing compared to people, whether its your family members, your friends, or even your coworkers, those are the things that matter, and Joplin, thank you for really showing that to me. All of these memories will have such a lasting impression on me. Whether it was seeing "Hope" High School, the Hospital, Cunningham Park, Howie's incredible tour, the house we worked on, ziplining, way too many sonic trips or just simply spending quality time with an amazing group, all of those things I will never forget. I hope I will get to see each and everyone of the people that I spent my spring break of 2012 with soon, and I love you all.
Back to Reality,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Time well spent

This trip to Joplin, MO was very eye opening and so much fun. The first day was a little rough with the rain and the flight delay but it smoothed out for the rest of the trip. When we first got to the job site it was looking pretty poor and I thought, oh no what did we get our selves into? But as 26 people mobilized onto the property within as little as 4 hours it started to look so much better. Then, once we started to sand, paint, and wash down the house it made me feel so happy to see how far we had come in only a few short days. We spent a day in Branson and it was so much fun; even though I was dizzy half the time. We saw a lot of sites and pretty country sides and the steak and shake was amazing. The next two days of work were the most fun because we really accomplished a lot, all the hard prep work really paid off.  As the coats of paint went on and the new trim was nailed to the house it all started to come together. Even with all the hard work and great memories I still feel sad that this is our last night here even though it feels like yesterday we were just getting off the flight. A special shout out to Krista Landry and Angel Seto for going to the hospital with me after a really fun but tiring day I know it was the last thing anyone wanted to do. Also the rest of the trip leaders and chaperons you all were amazing and made the trip very special for all. 

Chris Peck

coming to an end, but beginning many new longlasting friendships

Hi All--

 So today is the last work day of our trip. What can I say--this was the best trip I have ever been on. It has been filled with so many memories, emotions, long lasting friendships, tears, laughs, funny stories, discussions, fun, hard work, over coming fears and barriers, and helping people that may or may not have been able to help themselves.

  I have loved every minute of this trip from beginning to end. It has been a life changing experiences, that I will never forget, and always keep close to my heart. I love all my new family members--aka the ASB 2012 crew. I think that we were all meant to come together for this great purpose, and I can't think of being here with anyone else.

To all of you--thank you for making this such a memorable trip--you mean so much to me. :) I look forward to deepening our friendships even after this trip is over. Thank you to Scott, Howie, Rhonda, and anyone else in Joplin that gave us such a warm welcome and sincere hospitality. I will always remember you.

 Joplin started something very special for me in many aspects and I cant wait to tell everyone at home my stories and experiences.

Love You All,
<3 Mary


This week was truly amazing.  I never could have imagined how much I would take away from it.  I had some hesitations at the beginning of the week since I hadn't made too many meetings and I didn't know if I would be able to contribute because of my shoulder pain, but the minute I stepped into the airport and met up with everyone I knew this week would be a blast.  Being a transfer to FSU I hadn't known more than 5 people on campus prior to this trip.  Now that the week is over, I can stay that I have 25 more friends on campus and I love every single one of them like family.
This trip really opened up my eyes to what other people around the world deal with.  We don't experience tornadoes in Massachusetts so to see how much devastation one tornado could have on a town made me incredibly thankful for living in a part of the country that doesn't worry about them.  It also made me realize how much materials don't really matter.  After seeing what these people have lost and how they've continued to live past, it reenforces that though a disaster like this would be devastating, all that matters to me is that my family and friends make it out alive.
The people in this town are more amazing than anyone I have every met.  They are so thankful for us being here, but really we are the ones who should be thankful for their hospitality and welcoming.  The people of Joplin are strong and they will continue to come back from this unfortunate disaster.  As for us, we will forever be changed by this experience and we will never forget our inSPiRING BREAK in Joplin, MO.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday- the day of accomplishment & an amazing Howard tour!

Today was a day that made me extremely proud of our entire Alternative Spring Break team; we got things accomplished in a timely manner.  This included: scrapping paint, sanding, weeding, and oh so very much more.  I am so happy that I got to meet Rhonda, the homeowner of the house we are working on!  While talking with her I got a little insight into her life and was truly touched.  I found out how much her and her husband like going out into the yard and looking at flowers while they enjoy their time together.  Unfortunately, due to the tornado that hit a couple of months ago there has been debris and destruction that has been left in the way, ruining their view of their beautiful landscape.  This immediately made me want to fix this saddening story.  A group of girls and I thought about how we wanted their place of relaxation to return.  That day I asked Rhonda if she would mind if we created a garden for her and she was thrilled and excited about the idea.  We staked out an area and began planning our idea of a lovely looking garden right in front of the porch where Rhonda and her husband can sit and admire it in the mornings while they enjoy their coffee.  The girls and I picked out a bunch of perennial flowers that will brighten up the front yard!
After a long work day the entire group got an old fashion, good time, tour of Joplin, MO in the path the tornado took from Howard.  Seeing all of the destruction made me realize how truly powerful supporting others can be.  Just to be able to see all the progress that has been made in less than a year is amazingly inspiring.  The people of Joplin are so kind and genuinely thankful; it makes me want to volunteer for even longer than we are here for.  Due to this factor, I  know that it is going to be extremely hard to leave!
Krista :)
Fundraising Trip Leader  


Today is the day, my friends! My sun rash is in full bloom! Now, for me at least, this is quite the shock! Take one look at the group you will find that I, Stephen Supernor, am the strongest and burliest man on this crew. My enormous size and stature makes that evident. One would think a person like me would have skin as resilient as sand paper, but somehow my outer most dermis is weathered and burned to an itchy crisp!

But surely there have been many more events that have left an impression on me than the rays of the sun leavin a nasty rash on my arm! Yesterday the whole group took a day trip to Branson, Missouri and on the way we saw the destruction of Missouri's most recent tornadoes. There were entire buildings and hotels whose structures were warped; windows were smashed, they were toppling over, and some lots were completely cleared. And FEMA did not declare this a disaster, although the damage would say otherwise. The path of destruction a tornado takes is truly sporatic. In some cases, one home will be completely flattened to the ground, while the next door house will have only minor damage. This shows how unpredictable and deadly tornadoes are. There is no mercy, and tornadoes truly do not discriminate.

Take, for instance, the families that were torn apart in the episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that we watched on Tuesday night. One mother had two of her three children torn out of her arms, never to be seen again. Another mother lost her son under a utility pole, the mass crushed his skull and he did not make it. These extremely young children had a full life ahead of them cut way too short by a tornado. Another family who had just retired lost their entire home to the storm and, at age 70, it is really hard to rebuild (although this couple wanted to live out their lives in Joplin). There are so many stories like this, of great loss and suffering due to this tornado. Seeing the support they got from the Extreme Makeover Team and the hope and community that can be restored to a place like Joplin from human good works truly inspired me to take myself seriously in helping this family we are working with through Project 195.

There's so much more to say, but I'm off to another productive work day!!!

Til next time

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today we went to Branson it was GREAT!  Not only was the weather beautiful, but the experiences where fantastic!  I went with the Zip Line group and did the 100 foot free fall at the end.  WHAT  a thrill that was it was a great experience and the people running the zip line where incredibly nice and friendly.  After the zip line we met up with the rest of our ASB crew and headed to the Branson strip! It was sooo fun we went to a burger place (that I can't remember the of oops) that reminded me of 5 Guys back home. After grabbing a quick lunch we did a little bit of shopping and saw some of the aftermath of the Branson Tornado.  It was interesting to see how although there was destruction most places where still open and very welcoming.  Something I LOVE about the mid-west/southern states is the fact that EVERYONE here is super friendly and I plan on trying to take some of that hospitality home with me.  THEN there was the Dolly Parton Dixy Stampede an interesting cultural experience to say the least.  I loved watching the horse riding and stunting and SUPER enjoyed watching Stephen, Tim, Mary, and Erin riding around on horse heads on sticks.  Over all today was a great success.

On a side note:
Last night we watched the Extreme Make Over Joplin edition and to say the least it has started to make me a little homesick ans missing my family a lot.  The emphasis on how important family is over materiel things just made want to be at home making mac and cheese with my sister Lindsey.
Checking out,
- Tracy W.

Day 5

It's been a long day of fun on our day off in Branson. I can't get enough of this beautiful weather. This morning due to my fear of heights ziplining was not on the agenda. Instead it was off to Steak n' Shake and the talking caves. I love being in Missouri and getting a feel for the different places to eat and shop at. The way of life here is so different from Massachusetts. Driving to Branson was awesome. You could see for miles out the window of the car- you would've thought none of us had ever seen a cow or grass before. The talking caves were amzing. It was so interesting to learn about them and how they were discovered. Going one hundred feet down into the earth was a cool adventure and a great way to cool off from the heat. The highlight of the day had to be the Dixie Land Stampede. It was such a great break and bonding activity. It's safe to say I am beyond exhausted but looking forward to the rest of the week.  

I can't believe that it's already Wednesday and we leave in three days. Although today was so much fun, it felt weird not being on the worksite. But this day off has motivated me even more to work hard tomorrow! So excited for the rest of the week :)

Carolyn Holland

Yee-Haw Dixie Stampede!!!

Day Four consisted of: more clean up, watching extreme makeover (which was a TOTAL sob session) and an ice cream truck visit :) We got a chance to go to Cunningham Park which is the park at the center of town where the city of Joplin came together after the storm. Extreme Makeover did a fantastic job making the park GORGEOUS! It was such a relaxing, calm and happy place to be in. Angel and I spotted the cutest puppies and got to play with them. Shout out to our little doggie friends Reggie & Greta! (I'm glad Boston can't read this..otherwise he would know Angel cheated on him...whoops!) 

Day Five: 

Zip lining, free falling 100 feet, Branson Landing and the Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede show! It was such an awesome day, everything about it was amazing from the weather to the unity we felt standing on that zip lining tower right before we went down. Joplin even got to come with us which was a big fear of his! The workers at Branson Zip Line was so nice and informative it was great.The Dixie Stampede was so funny and such a good show!! 

It's already Wednesday and I can't even put into words how amazing this experience has been. It almost seems crazy to think that we are leaving Joplin in just a few days. 

Cant't wait to get to the worksite tomorrow!! :) 

Peace. Love. Hope 

Time will tell

It has been about three days since my last blog, sounds like im doing my confession… lol. There has been quite amount of action since my last post. It has been quite interesting, we as a group have been working very well together I have been very impressed by the amount of diligence in my fellow asb-ers. Living with 26 people in very tight quarters has been pretty successful, minus the pluming issues we have had… you know who you are! We finally started working on a site. It was along the path of the tornado and miraculously this house survived while other around it were destroyed. The house which was also in disrepair before the storm needed a ton of work.

The first day was pretty cool if I don’t say so myself. The group worked real well together. We managed to put in a couple hours of work in the back yard and we could instantly see the difference. Metal in the metal pile, trash in the trash pile, and wood in the wood pile, slowly but surely there was a sense of pride. Pride in the sense that in just a couple hours of hard work could have a great impact on a hurting family. In the past couple days that has almost been the best experience that has struck me the most. I am learning quite a bit from my fellow brothers and sisters on this trip. The city of Joplin is very resilient and it is clearly seen by everything that has occurred over the past year and how everyone in the town is awesome.


Ps. small reminders during this couple of days
1)      I lost in a fry eating competition but had a great time with Alexandra, Tim, Rachel, Linnea
2)      I lost in bowling to Mary by 1 point
3)      I could have won both games ;)
4)      Kendra almost destroyed me thanks to a fan and her big toe

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 1

Of course by now everyone has already written about Day 1 long ago, but I just hatched out of my shell today-give me time (and patience, please). Day 1 was an interesting day-early morning flight, delayetd flight #1, delayed flight take 2...and then finally on our way to Joplin. Not one person has made fun of my accent or said a word about how fast I talk (to my surprise). What people did say? Thank you. I think the first time I heard it was on the second flight en route to Joplin. A lot of people saw our massive group of 26-exhausted with endless pillows and carry ons- and they were curious about us. Who we were. Where we were from. What we were doing. I had a few conversations with people who were all so incredibly kind. People told me how nice what we were doing was and while I don't want to say I didn't want to hear it, as that wouldn't be the correct phrase in the least, it felt strange to my ears. It still does, three days later. I guess I just feel like although I am doing something good and something selfless for someone just feels so strange that people make a big deal of it simply because it feels so normal. Everyone should want to volunteer and help other people. I can't really understand why anyone wouldn't want to. It just feels so strange to hear people thanking me for something I feel like I would normally do anyway, something I feel everyone should normally do everyday.

The first person who I really spoke to at length about our trip and what we were doing was a woman on the plane to Joplin, seated behind me. She was one of the few people on the plane who were from Joplin and just expressed a very sincere and gracious 'thank you.' When we were getting off the plane, a few passengers thanked us again and it was just an amazing moment.

I'll admit this wasn't my favorite moment, though, but I'll get to that in a moment. Another thing I feel is necessary to write about is the group's attitude when others praise us. There are some people in this world who do nice things for others or give for the wrong reasons. Some think it makes them a better person than others, thus giving them the right to demean others by thinking less of them or bragging. Some people don't understand that volunteer work isn't about pity or feeling bad that these poor, poor people have just crumbled to the ground and need our help to get back on their feet. It didn't take me long to realize this group of amazing individuals did not include a single person with that outlook. Every person that was questioned about our group or what we were doing casually, graciously, and humbly told them what we were doing. There was no bragging, no negative vibe-just incredibly sincere and honest  communication. And I think that's incredibly important. 

My most emotional moment of the night was after we first arrived in Joplin. Our flight had been delayed and we were all hungry and tired and went for dinner at Pizza Hut. I immediately began to notice how personable and friendly people are here than in New England, it was almost unreal. There was a man ('the man in the red shirt') at the end of table where I sat with (presumably) his son. The man made small talk with us and asked where we were from, what we were doing, etc. When he found out we were volunteering his tone and expression immediately changed. He thanked us and told us how much it meant to him as a citizen of Joplin, he told us about his experience with the tornado and places to visit. He joked that people on this side of the Mississippi couldn't make good pizza. He was just a nice guy and I really enjoyed conversing with him.

A few moments after he left, the store manager came up to Kendra, Molly, and Krista to talk to them about the bill. I was in earshot so I was able to hear the manager tell the trip leaders that the 'man in the red shirt' has donated $100 to our meal. Oh, and before I go any further-have I mentioned I asbolutely hate crying in front of people? Hate it. And I immediately started crying at the table because I was so overcome with emotion. This man gave us one hundred dollars towards our meal, after only talking with us for a few minutes, because we were volunteers. It was so unexpected and I just felt so...speechless that I cried. I'm pretty sure I was the only one crying, too. Little things have always gotten me. I'm sure 'the man in the red shirt' instructed the store manager to let us know he had donated money at the end of our meal, so he could leave without us catching up to him (oops?). The group leaders were able to catch up with him and he wouldn't give us a name or an address, so the trip leaders were only able to give him a "FSU Alternative Spring Break" pen. 

And of course the moment I finally think I have myself under control and we leave the store manager catches up to us in the parking lot with tears in his eyes and thanks us and tells us how important what we are doing is. He told us he lost 2 employees to the tornado and of course everyone started crying all at once. 

Another thing I've found interesting is the fact that men in our culture are generally told they need to follow the 'macho' stereotype-never showing emotion, never appearing 'sensitive,' and certainly never crying. These people who are thanking us don't feel ashamed, they don't feel weak, they don't walk around with their tails between their legs-and that's because they aren't any of these things. 

The only thing that Joplin, Missouri symbolizes is strong.

My First Post (it's about time!)

Writing has always been my thing-it just has. I've always expressed myself best through writings and things I write have always been completely open, honest, and up-front. I've been meaning to write here for a really long time and I was so excited when I heard that ASB had a blog and that we were all encouraged to write-I was just too afraid to show a vulnerable side of myself. 

I am definitely not the focus of this trip for myself or for anyone else, but this trip has meant the world to me since the moment I heard of it. I wanted-needed- to be apart of it. I would have done anything. 

Maybe I should start from the beginning and really open up, as hard as that is for me to...potentially anyone who could be reading this. Am I still afraid? Of course, but I know myself well enough to know that this is something I need to do because it is Day 3 of the trip and I don't want to hold back emotionally and miss out on something great.

Being a transfer at Framingham State is not easy. I transferred to Framingham State last semester, Fall 2011 and I've had a really hard time meeting people. It's not because I'm antisocial or because there aren't any 'good' people at Framingham, it's just hard to be the only one seeking out new people at events when everyone goes everywhere with their friends. They aren't looking to make new friends so the dynamic doesn't really work out. I've had other issues as well (just like everyone else-this is college) and things have just been really hard. And to be clear, this will all be relevant in  a moment, I'm not looking for pity or sympathy or to complain, that's not what I'm about. This trip has meant so much to me for so long in more ways than one.

I've always been interested in volunteer work and I've always volunteered in some small way. It's just something I've always enjoyed. Give me a minute, I'm still holding back. It's so much different when you're trying to write something personal and it isn't private, but I know I need to force myself to lay this all out there. It's really hard when your only friends at school are your suitemates. It really is. I've wanted to really get to know people since Day 1 of the fall semester but I haven't had many opportunities.

That was one of the main reasons I wanted to be apart of ASB (besides the fact that I really wanted to help volunteer and spend my break doing something actually worth my time). I wanted to be submerged in a situation where I would be surrounded by strangers and need to force myself out of my shell and get to know new people, truly 'sink or swim'. But it's not working as well as I wanted it to. It's day 3 (day 4 now, technically) and I don't want this experience with these people to just end on Saturday. I don't want to feel like I spent a week with an amazing group of people without really getting to know them.

Change starts now.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Hi Sunbun Nice to Meet you

After an emotional and rainy day yesterday today was and uplifting and great day!  We starting working on a house on Harlem Street.  It was fantastic the group really bonded more and enjoyed the sunny weather.  Everyone here is great the liquor store across let us use there bathroom.  Everyone here in Joplin is so appreciative and it just makes me feel all warm in fuzzy in side (as cheesy as that sounds).  It is such a great feeling to give and such a different experience compared to last year.  Mostly because the destruction is so new and fresh.  Seeing the high school really hit home with me simply because the high school I attended is being rebuilt because it leaked and had a lot of issues but never did a storm completely destroy any part of my school.  The people here in Joplin are such a strong group of people with such a strong seance of community.  It's great being here in Joplin and meeting all these people and hearing there stories!!!

Blog again soon,
Tracy Wright

I think I'll invest in some sunblock

Today was awesome! We're working right down the street from the hospital.. what a sight. We're going to be working all week on a house where a married couple live with their granddaughter. When we got there this morning, we couldn't believe how much help these people needed. We raked, moved a ton of scrap metal, wood and trash, finding papers and pictures all over the ground that were important parts of these people's lives. Very hard to know that these items were lost in the tornado. After a long day of scraping paint, sanding, and running across the street to use the bathroom in the liquor store (nicest people there, and also it's a drive through liquor store?! So cool), we got our sunburned selves back to the house to shower and eat before we go BOWLING tonight. Hope I've improved since the last time. Maybe another Sonic's run again tonight? I think we could go for some tots and slushies again :)

Loving Joplin!

Personality Test

Personality test

Today was our first full day in Joplin, full of fun adventures and activities, as in two delays and the first experience in Dallas’ very huge airport. Once we finally arrived in Joplin we immediately felt the gratitude from its citizens. We were thanked for coming here and we were given a very generous donation for our dinner from a “man in the red jacket.” It also has been very great to get to bond more with my fellow asb –ers. I can see the great leadership we have and how great and flexible most of us are.

We also went to see the path of destruction left by the tornado. Even though it has been almost 365 days since it happened there is still a ton of destruction. Enough devastation that we could not let poor little Joplin see. As we drove through the devastation I was thinking how the city had been destroyed but there was still a ton of life and hope for the future. Houses were being built surrounded by destruction. We did drive by some of the houses that we made on a TV show for the family that we lavish and creative but those were not the houses that stuck out to me. I really enjoyed the houses that reflected the personality of what I think Joplin is; the brand new, yet simply elegant, house next to the 1940 Ford F150. A part of the city had been destroyed but yet the personality of the people is still present. No matter the devastation the people of Joplin experience they will persevere.

I am very glad I have made the commitment to the trip.


First Full Day!

Today was our first full day in Joplin, MO, and what an amazing time we all had! After our morning Starbucks trip we drove around the path of the storm. We saw so much destruction and devastation. Homes were destroyed, rubble piles were packed high in the middle of the vast flat grasslands, roofs were disheveled and hanging onto the houses by a thread, bricks were thrown about and badly weathered, and in the midst of all this nothingness there was hope. As corny as it sounds, the spirit of Joplin truly amazes me.

After traveling to Joplin High, now Hope High School, we saw wooden stars posted to the fences of the construction site reading "God is bigger than any 'monsters' we face", "Always remember" and "No place like home: 5/22". These people lost everything that they possessed, their homes, their personal belongings, some of them lost their children, family and friends, yet they still have their faith and find true happiness being together, supporting each other and helping each other move past this disaster. Looking through the papers strewn throughout the ground within the work site where Joplin High once stood I thought about the history within those walls--people attending school dances, passing their high school crushes in the hallways, making friends, playing sports, mastering a subject they never thought they could because of the help from a great teacher, and I got really emotional seeing the destruction the storm had caused.

Since arriving we have gotten so many thanks-from the airline workers to the man who paid $100 for our dinner at Pizza Hut to the waiter who told us we're touching his heart by helping restore because he lost so many friends and coworkers to the tornado and it really grateful me happy to be a part of this effort to restore some sense of Joplin. By working on a few houses we are putting our work and talents into improving someone's future just a little bit. It means a lot to me to be spending another spring break working in disaster relief.

Other events today included the purchase of a plush snuggie, stepping into a huge puddle, and making first of many ventures to SONIC! I'm running out of steam, or else I would totally write more in-depth.

Til next time!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Have Hope Joplin

Since the night started at Kendra's, I knew this trip was going to be a blast!  The people here are so amazing and so greatful... Our first night here, we went to Pizza Hut for dinner.  A man asked us where we were from and we shared our story of why we were there... Without us knowing, he put $100 towards our bill.  Hours before that when we were at the Joplin Airport, a man thanked us for being here.  The kindness of everybody down here is amazing.  This is an experience of a lifetime and I cannot even begin to explain how much fun I am having.  Today (Sunday), we saw all of the damage the horrible tornado caused... We went to the high school and finally saw the hOPe High School sign.  The ironic part is when we got out of the vans to walk at the school, that was the only time the sun came out and it stopped raining... I feel as if it was a sign of some sort... It really made me appreciate my education and school.  Who cares if we don't have the newest computers or our desks are 20 years old, we have a school.. That is all that matters. These poor students have lost memories... As we were looking through the fence, we saw papers from classes, including paperwork from 2002.  Having the tornado happen 10 months ago, it is amazing seeing everything still lying around.  We have done so much and have seen so many things but I'm not going to write a book... I'll let others share. Long story, short...  THIS TRIP IS AMAZING AND LIFE CHANGING AND EVERYONE FROM THE FRAM*ILY TO THE PEOPLE OF MISSOURI ARE AMAZING.
     Erin :)

Joplin's in my heart: my experience so far

Today was our first full day in Joplin, and it has been great so far. I was woken up by Jorge yelling--so I threw my pillow at him! haha--then we all had pancakes for Breakfast which were yummy, and then headed out for a drive through town to see where the tornado hit down, and created destruction to peoples homes, businesses, churches, schools,cars, and even lawns. It took the lives and livelihoods of so many here in Joplin, and to see that first hand was overwhelming. We stopped at where Joplin High originally was and saw how uprooted and destroyed the building and neighborhood is. It honestly was so shocking to see just how bad it really is here--the pictures you see don't give it justice. I saw homework and textbooks on the ground still in tact from being thrown around.  It was just very emotional to see and experience what a natural disaster looks like first hand, and what these people go through every day.  This is honestly a huge learning experience and I am so happy to be a part of this. I am going to have memories of all the people we have met so far (the man who helped us pay for some of our meal at Pizza Hut, just to say thank you, the manager of Pizza hut who lost 6 friends and 2 employees in the tornado, Scott the director of Project 195, and locals from the airport and town) and I know we have many more to meet before we leave. I just can't express enough how powerful this experience has been so far--and I can't wait to see how the rest of the trip goes. --As we just got back from cleaning and painting the other volunteer house, its time to eat din din--so I'm signing off now--but I just want to say I love our group, the people here in Joplin, and the opportunity we have been given. Love, Mary

Restore Joplin: Day One

After a VERY long day of planes, trains and automobiles (ok just cars, planes, and 15-passenger vans I guess), we finally made it to Joplin around 4pm yesterday afternoon. We spent a few hours waiting at the Joplin airport for the vans to be ready, where we saw another group of college students who had just completed their week of restore. That really got us excited when they exclaimed how great their week was and how much fun they had. We were also welcomed to Joplin by some gracious residents and airport employees who were so happy to have us help with the clean up and restoration. We took this time to get to know each other a little better, playing name games, "two truths and a lie", and took some funny (and some pretty ridiculous) pictures.

Hungry, anxious, and completely exhausted, we got to dinner last night and couldn't wait to dig in. As a group of 26 people with northern accents, we knew we were bound to get some questioning from other people around us. A man and his son were seated at the table next to us, and sure enough, he inquired about our origins. When we told him who we were and what we were doing here, he paused for a moment, pursed his lips in what looked like an effort to hold some tears back, and said how truly grateful he was that we were there and that he was so proud of us for taking the time to come down and lend a hand. We said we couldn't be happier to help, and with that, he got up and left. A moment later, the manager of the restaurant came over to us and said that an anonymous customer had already paid $100 of our bill. That right there proved that we were meant to do great things this week, and we owed it to the residents of Joplin to help make their lives even a little better.

Another staple moment of the trip so far was just this morning, when we drove the path that the tornado took that fateful day just 10 months ago. We saw houses with roofs torn off, trees completely uprooted, and a scene that was just simply unimaginable. Visiting Joplin High School, now appropriately renamed "Hope High School" was truly a sight. Completely destroyed, we learned that these students have been moved to the Northpark Mall (which we saw this morning also) to resume classes this year. An overwhelming sense of emotion rang through all of us when we saw the ruins of the school building. To know that they are persevering and moving on with life is so uplifting and it makes what we're doing here feel even better.

Time for dinner now.. nothing like a huge vat of pasta for 26 people :) More to come later this week!



I wrote this entry as we waited for our flight to board. We have since arrived in Joplin and have experienced an amazing amount of gratitude. For now though, I will just tell about just one experience :)

The journey to Joplin, Missouri has begun. Technically, it began at about 3:45 AM. Right now all 26 of us are waiting at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport to board our final flight to Joplin. We have had some delays though so we are resting, eating candy, and filling our bodies with caffeine for the week ahead.
We have not even arrived in Joplin and the experiences from the tornadoes are already being told and leaving impressions on us. I asked out loud to the group if anyone knew if the Joplin Airport was affected by the tornado. No one in the group knew the answer but a young guy sitting by himself chimed in and said that it hadn’t. He was also waiting for the flight to Joplin to board and I could tell he had a story. He started listing off the streets that were affected the most, including the local businesses. He also said that he had to attend four funerals that week. Even the Home Depot he worked at was destroyed. My heart broke. I wanted nothing more than to just hug him and say I’m sorry. He asked about where we were from and what we were doing. He was kind enough to thank us. It consistently amazes me how thankful people are for what we are doing. Yet, WE are the ones who should be thankful. We should be thankful for this opportunity and for being the ones who can do the giving rather than the receiving.
As the airlines had us move to a different terminal to board our flight, I overhead him say to himself, “I just want to go home.” Home. Joplin is his home. It made me think of my own home and what it would be like if I had to see it in such a state of devastation. The thought was enough to make my heart hurt. So while we begin the journey to help rebuild we should remember that Joplin is not just a town that has a tornado touchdown in, it is home to so many. It is a place of comfort, a place of serenity, and a place that they can go back to everyday and be who they are.We have the chance to bring a little piece of that back to them and we are so appreciative.

Thank you Joplin!
Molly :)