Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hi everyone!

Now that it has been about two months since I have joined ASB, I have had a lot to reflect on. I am glad we have the opportunity to blog, because I think sometimes we have so much to say, but it is hard to say in front of other people. I have been beyond excited for this trip from the beginning, and I still am! However, I am also a little nervous because I feel so inexperienced when it comes to this. This is my first real service trip, and I think sometimes that is a big limitation for me. I also think I feel out of my element because this is my first new thing I have done on campus in quite some time! I have been a part of most of my leadership positions for 2-3 years now, so my adjustment to ASB is just a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I am still getting to know everyone, and I have found myself being a little more reserved than I usually am around people. I think I am starting to warm up though, and become more comfortable around the group.

You are all such fantastic people, and your hearts are so big. I had so much fun yesterday at our Holiday Party, and I enjoyed watching everyone opening their Secret Santa gifts! I wish everyone the best of luck during finals, and I have confidence that you will all do great! Also, have a great holiday break, and enjoy your time with friends and family. I know I will, and I am very appreciative for each and every one of you!

-Sam Ghika
Class of 2014

Friday, December 13, 2013

At our Holiday party and secret Santa extravaganza, I couldn't help but think about all the amazing people in the room! We all bring something different to the table and because of this, this makes us stronger as a group. I am so happy to have met all of you and can't wait to work with you all and Habitat for Humanity in the Spring.

Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and friendly and a great big thank you to our lovely trip leaders, who work tirelessly in hopes of making this the best program it can be.

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate!

Casey Tidwell
Class of 2014

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hi Everyone!

After having a few ASB meetings I am getting excited for our trip to Oklahoma.  I can remember the anticipation and nervousness I had felt this time last year. I am very excited that we will be working closely with Habitat for Humanity this year along with a great group of FSU students. The devastation that has hit the families in the area seems unimaginable and it feels awesome that we get to contribute and become a part in the rebuilding of hope. Serving those who have been affected by devastation can be hard emotionally but learning their stories is powerful and can be very rewarding!  

Shannon Howe

Saturday, November 30, 2013

As all my Thanksgiving activities are coming to an end and I am traveling back from my house in Attleboro back to Framingham to work, all I could think about was not having a place to go for Thanksgiving. I could not even think about not having a place to celebrate or not getting my whole family together. I don't know how these people who lost their houses are doing it, but I am so impressed that they can. I can't wait to go down to Oklahoma and help a family so that they can be together whenever they please under a roof with heat and electricity. Weeks like this make this trip worth everything it takes to get down there, the endless fundraising and bugging people to buy raffle tickets, its worth it to make someone happy.

Caitlin Murray

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday and are enjoying the small break before the end of the semester. I am excited for the coming month ahead to attend more meetings and spend more time with the ASB group. The more I talk about ASB to my family and friends the more excited I get for the trip. It makes me realize how awesome of a group we have and what a great experience this trip will bring

Christopher Bunce
Class of 2016

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Morning

I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning to the worst rain & wind storm I have heard in a long time. At first, I was angry to have been woken up so early on my first night home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but soon after, that feeling vanished. 

I soon thought of the people of Oklahoma, Illinois, and all affected by the recent tornadoes. I thought of how terrified and heartbroken they must have felt when the tornado was destroying their homes, impacting their lives, and putting their loved ones at risk. I thought of how they must have felt during the times of uncontrollable wind and damage, and I suddenly felt incredibly grateful.

Although I was awake early, I knew my house would be there in the morning. I knew my brothers would still be asleep (probably until 3 p.m.). I knew that my friends and family in the area are all safe. I knew that my (lazy) cat would still be sleeping on the couch. These are all things that these people did not have the privilege of feeling. 

To me, this experience exhibits how much I have personally developed through my ASB experience so far. These people are already giving me so much in life, including the ability to think outside of myself. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for all of these people for that they have given me a fresh outlook on life. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate! 

-Casey Tidwell 
Class of 2014 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I’m not much of a blogger so I’m not sure where this will go...
For about two weeks now I haven’t really been myself, it’s getting closer to the end of the semester and things are getting a bit difficult, which I’m sure is true for us all.  Being a part of ASB has already shown me few of the upsides.  ABS has truly provided a bunch of genuine people. Without really knowing it few of the members has cheered me up in small silly ways, it’s kind of hard to be glum around you guys. Everyone is always cheery, and I can’t help but forget my issues. I love sitting at the tables and getting to know everyone, it’s one of the few times I get to create small bonds with everyone.   So thank you ASB team members you’re all awesome and I can’t wait for OKLAHOMA. 
Rushell Jones 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"It's part of the Trip Leader Experience"

This year as a Trip Leader has been a totally different experience than last year as an ASB participant. There are many more challenges and stresses but they have all been ones that I have enjoyed tackling. From planning fundraisers and group meetings to fighting about our mascot's name, the whole process has been very rewarding, or as Claire would say, "It's part of the Trip Leader experience."

The most satisfying aspects of being a TL so far has been seeing the group mesh together to become one. I remember the night we picked our group we were so excited to make the calls and eventually see them at our meetings so they could each bring their uniqueness to the group dynamic. As the year has gone on, I am extremely proud of the work that this group has put in. They have put aside their own time and made a huge commitment to this program by group fundraising at the MC Lobby tables, attending meetings, and even selling raffle tickets to their friends and family to help pay for this trip. I know they will continue to push through the rest of the semester and into the next one so we can meet our fundraising goal. 

Having a group like the one we have this year has been a TL's dream. They're flexibility and willingness to do whatever it takes, makes me motivated to be the best TL I can be. I also have two other amazing Trip Leaders, Amy and Tori, who push me to do the best I can. This has been a total team effort and I think we've gotten off to an amazing start!

TL Brandon Martinez
Class of 2016

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Just Unreal

One hundred sixteen days, twenty two hours, forty two minutes, and some odd seconds and it will be the day I take flight with twenty eight amazing people who were once strangers merely two months ago. The idea of this still blows my mind.

The night I received the phone call telling me that I had been chosen to go on this trip, I danced around work for the rest of the night and wasn't even mad we had to stay an extra hour to clean the store that so many customers had destroyed. I literally couldn't wait to tell everyone... so obviously I posted it on facebook.

From that moment, I had been ecstatic about being able to experience this once in a lifetime trip that so many others would never even think twice about.

But now, sitting here in my dark apartment watching my boyfriend play video games, the idea of actually going to Oklahoma and helping so many people just seems like something that little me would never get the chance to do. It's just unreal. Its a feeling combined with excitement and awe, thankfulness and hope, fear and curiosity... and humility.

Honestly, I think the whole experience thus far, especially reading articles about the tornadoes that destroyed so many homes, schools, lives... they've just made me so incredibly thankful to be in my own shoes. It's made getting up in the morning and grabbing a bowl of cereal for breakfast something I can't go without thinking twice about. Because there are too many people in the world and in our own country that don't have that fortune. ASB has made me realize all the things I take for granted each day and I can't shrug them off anymore. But it's also made me not want to anymore. 

Instead I just want to change things.

I want to help at least one person be able to get up in the morning in their new house and just grab a bowl of cereal.

And even if I do only end up helping one person throughout this whole experience then that will be enough for me because thats still one less person that has to wake up each morning worrying about where they're even getting any food at all.

But what I'm most thankful for is that I'm surrounded by twenty eight other people that want to make a difference, too.

Now that's pretty cool.

Kimmi Awiszio

Class of 2015

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Hey Guys!!!!

       Its been so amazing getting to know everyone! First I want to say I am so excited to have Homer/Russell this week, he his such a snuggler!!!! Also the trip on Saturday was so amazing, everyone at the habitat re-store was so nice and it made me even more excited for Oklahoma. I think everyone who was there didn't want to leave, I know I could have stayed the entire day to help out!!  I hope everyone has a greet week!!

Jaime Bailey
Class of 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Time Flies

Hey Everyone,

I can't believe there are only five weeks left in this semester! Time is flying by, and before you know it we'll be in Oklahoma doing what we set out to accomplish. In the last few meetings I've gotten the chance to chat with a few of you, and I'm so excited to be a part of this awesome group! :) Embarrassingly enough, this is honestly the first time I've participated in a big extracurricular activity since...middle school. Other than a couple of plays in high school, I've always been the person who flies under the radar, and I'm really happy that I'm breaking that habit with ASB. I can't wait to get to know all of you better!

Elizabeth Murphy
Class of 2016


Hi Everyone!
      I am so excited to be part of this amazing group of people. I really enjoy getting to know everyone at the McCarthy center tables! It is really nice to work with a great group of people towards a greater purpose. I have never really been part of a group like this or involved much on campus but I am so happy I can be part of this team.
   With the crazy amounts of school work piling up ASB is something exciting to look forward to. The group is so nice and welcoming I can't wait to get to know everyone.

Jessica Geary

Class of 2016


I absolutely cannot believe that I have the chance to go on Alternative Spring Break for a second time! Words really cannot describe how fortunate I feel. However, although it is my second time, this year has already provided me with a new and exciting experience. The members of the group that I have had the chance to spend time with are so great, and I am already excited to spend time with those who I have not had the chance to get to know. The fundraisers and meetings have provided me the chance to feel connected to this group already and I just can't wait for March!

In addition to getting to know everyone, it has been so interesting to learn more about Oklahoma. I have definitely been one of those people who forgot about the tornado last May, but it is really eye-opening to hear how much help they still need. Tornadoes are something that I don't really know anything about, so I find myself so interested in and awe-struck by the power that these natural disasters present. I hope that ASB 2014 will be able to provide some help for those affected! I can't wait!

Molly Buckley
Class of 2015
Hi All,

It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you and the wonderful state of Oklahoma!

As someone who has spent her whole life in New England, it is hard to imagine living in another part of the United States, especially one that is subject to so many natural disasters. Learning about Oklahoma, and the culture there, is a completely eye opening experience.  Today I learned that tornados and natural disasters are such an intricate part of life in Oklahoma. Although we cannot control the weather, we can help control how we treat our neighbors and friends when they are faced with these disasters. I am honored to be part a strong FSU community, as well as a strong OK support community.

Casey Tidwell
Class of 2014

The blogging struggle....Kaylee Brazell 2017

Hey ASBers! My title is the blogging struggle because I could not figure it out for the life of me for like the past few weeks! But now I am so happy I can finally post on the page:) We have obviously all just met (as a group) but this is definitely my favorite group on campus because everyone is so friendly and so kind. This group is always so smiley and are so helpful with everything. Going to college is so new to me and I was nervous about the people I was going to meet, but now that I have joined Alternate Spring Break I know I have already made genuine friends! Thank you for being so nice, I cannot wait to learn more about everyone and get ready for this amazing trip!

~~~ ASB ~~~

Hey all!

I am getting more and more excited for this trip! I think you are all honestly wonderful people, and it has been such a pleasure getting to know you guys better. Maybe it is just because I have a passion for food, but I am SO excited to go out with some of you guys!! I hope to get to know some of you all a little better. I hope fundraising is going well for everyone as well. I know it is a little tough, but I think everyone is doing a great job! Keep up the great work and stay positive.

-Sam Ghika
Class of 2014

I am SO excited.

     Things are starting to get real, and I feel like the reality of what we are doing is starting to set in a little bit (but I’m sure there is more to come!) We have been doing a lot of fundraising and I have learned a lot about the tornados and about the area we will be visiting (Moore, Oklahoma) and I am beyond excited about this opportunity to go help with this relief effort. 
     Today I looked more into Habitat for Humanity program and I am very excited to work for this organization. I am getting to know a lot more people on the team and this too is SO EXCITING I already know we are going to have an amazing experience together, and I am so happy to be a part of this team.

Kendall Valente
Class of 2015


The transition from high school to college was so smooth and ASB has been such an important piece to really getting involved in school and making connections I know I probably never would've had if I didn't do this. It really is so much more than just a group of people coming together to help those in need: this is a family and a support group. This past month has flown by with so many fundraisers and events we've volunteered for and I know there's so much more in the next few months. I seriously can't wait to see what's in store for us in the next few months and the trip!

-Dan Larrivee
Class of 2017
Hello everyone,

I'm so excited to be going to Oklahoma with you all. I have already become friends with so many people through our meetings and fundraisers. I love that I can see an ASB member and be greeted by a welcoming hello. It is only November but I know that by the time we go to Oklahoma we will be such a close group.

Christopher Bunce
Class of 2016
Hey y'all!!

Every meeting I get so much more excited to go help everyone in Oklahoma! It's so awesome to start getting to know each other! Although I am still not perfect with everyone's names, I think I have the majority down. I hope I can look back at this blog and laugh about how I didn't know everyone!

Yay ASB!
Lauren Spina :)

Bills, bills, bills...

So, I have been pushing myself to fundraise more this past week, asking people for meal donations and to buy raffle tickets... and I've found that it's harder than I thought it was before. Perhaps because this is my third service trip, I'm often asking people for money. But when they find out why I'm asking them, most people are glad to help in any way. I'm getting to know more people in the group and I'm seeing them around campus frequently. It's nice to say hi to a familiar face. I'm getting more excited everyday to travel with these people, there's so much to learn about everyone.

Avarie Cook
Class of 2016

Can it be Spring Break yet?!

Hey all!

I absolutely cannot believe that it is already November! The time is FLYING by! The best part about that is the quicker the days pass, the sooner we will all be in Oklahoma! I am so excited to be on ASB once again and it will be an unforgettable experience for all of us and I just wish the clock would tick faster! All these fundraisers like the raffle, the Suit Jacket Posse show and the bake sales are all going so well.  I'm so ready to take on Oklahoma with all these fantastic people. But really, can it be spring break yet?!

Melissa Knox

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Introduction -

Hi everyone!

First and foremost, I'd like to apologize for not being able to attend a single ASB meeting so far.  It is not because I don't like you -- promise -- I've been dying to meet all of our group!

In lieu of my absence, I thought I'd tell you a bit about myself. 

My name is Erika Maglio (pronounced MAH-lee-o  -- just pretend you are very Italian when you say it! Given that, however, I'm not all that Italian).

I transferred to FSU this past semester and also switched majors.  So, technically, I have junior standing but I'm taking freshman biology classes.  Estimated graduation:  no clue.  I'm a commuter, so forgive me if I often get lost on campus.

I like animals.  Creepy, crawly, furry, scaly, slimy; you name it.  And to go along with it, I like dirt and grass and natury-things. I am a volunteer/intern at Southwick's Zoo, where my best friend is an 8-month-old binturong with a nasty temper.  At home, I have a Great Dane, two cats and a tortoise (Mum won't let me get a snake. Or a bunny. Or a goat.).

I also have a steady babysitting gig.  Sometimes I feel like a mom, always running around driving one kid to math class and the other to swimming lessons. And reminding them to wear their coats and do their homework.

My family moved into a new house last March.  We've spent the last few months working on a giant, never-ending, restoration project. I'm in the process of turning the attic into my bedroom.  Last weekend I installed a new window! Well....I helped Dad. 

I like fruits & veggies, dinosaurs, antique furniture, classic novels, hiking, tattoos, camping, gardening, cooking food from other countries, crochet, traveling, and anything historical (particularly the Civil War Era).  In short, I'm kind of weird.

But, enough about me. I cannot wait to get to know all of you! And the best news of all, is that I will be at the meeting this Friday!!!

Hope to see you all then,


P.S. I might be kind of shy & quiet :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hi All, 

I wanted to take this opportunity to share one of my favorite quotes with you. 

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

Have a wonderful week and keep doing good! 

-Casey Tidwell 
Class of 2014 

Monday, November 4, 2013

What?! It's already November?! EEEEK! Our trip to Oklahoma is quickly approaching!  I am loving my experience so far and I am also loving getting to know my fellow ASB-ers! Everyone is incredibly welcoming and I could not be happier to build relationships with my new friends. We all bring something special to the group and I can't wait to work together and make a positive impact on each other... and the world! 

Our discussion at Friday's meeting was incredibly moving and motivating. As an involved campus member and a Senior, I sometimes get caught up in my own problems and stressors, and because of this, forget how truly blessed I am. Reading Tori's article and participating in our group discussion reminded me how lucky I am to have supportive friends and family, the opportunity to receive an education, and food, water, and shelter. 

I can already tell that this experience will be life changing for me. I can not wait to see what else is in store for us! 

Love you all! You are all incredible human beings. 

Casey Tidwell 
Class of 2014

Food for thought...

Hello All,
I purchased a book for ASB that we may use in the coming months as we explore our role in affecting change, and I'd like to share a few lines from the introduction.  The name of the book is The Impossible Will Take a Little While edited by Paul Rogat Loeb.

"How difficult it is, though, to address such looming realities as weather gone haywire or a faltering economy when the day-to-day demands of job and family require so much of our attention.  Merely thinking about them is to flirt with disaster.
And no one is immune, not even those whose occupations or interests directly involve helping others or bringing about constructive social change."

Personally, I find these words extremely relevant.  Thinking of myself as a woman, a wife, a mother, an employee, a friend.  Thinking of paying the mortgage, daycare, bills, savings.  Thinking of spending time at work, time at home, with family and friends, time alone.  Thinking of the past, of today and of the future.

And also thinking of others- how do we all make it work?


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I am getting more and more excited as the days go on. It is starting to become more real as I get to know each of the wonderful group members. I am so excited to get to know all of you even better and I just think that this is going to be such an incredible experience!!!! :D I am excited for more fundraisers (the first bake sale was the past two days)  I am excited for our first regular meeting this friday…and really I'm just excited about it all!! I already love you guys! :)

Kendall Valente
Class of 2015

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hi all! So we have done a few fundraisers so far including the Duets show, and our bake sale that we just wrapped up today! I thought they both went great, and while working the Bake Sale tables I really got to know some of the ASB members that I did not know that well. Just like everyone else I am sure, I have been beyond busy this semester doing things for work, clubs, and grad school. I feel like I am so consumed sometimes by everything, and I am finding less and less time for myself. However, I have been really thinking about this trip and how genuinely excited I am for it! At the end of the day when I am thinking about everything, I really do realize how lucky I am to be going on a trip like this. Even though it is four months away, I am going to challenge myself to really take this experience all in as much as I can. Because before I know it, it is going to be March and we are going to be off to Oklahoma! I can't wait to become more acquainted with everyone, and start to really build those friendships that I have been waiting to create. Stay awesome everyone!

Sam Ghika
Class of 2014

Monday, October 28, 2013

Here... We... Go...

So I felt particularly inspired to blog last week after our first fundraising show, “Duets Doing Good,” because it was the first time the group was all-together in an informal setting. I could just look ahead and see how well we were all going to get along and how much the new members are going to get out of this experience. I officially met about half of the group during our first meeting Monday, but didn’t get the chance to introduce myself to everyone. After the show, I definitely feel like it’ll be easier to get to know everyone else I haven’t met and get to know those I have, better. Helping out at these fundraisers is going to be like group bonding activities, which will make me excited to get those fundraising hours done! I’m getting very excited for this trip and everything is looking up.

Avarie Cook
Class of 2016

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Everybody is great..."

As we begin this journey together, I feel so hopeful.  Not only because I have total confidence in the great work this team will accomplish, but because I believe that we are embarking together on a path to greatness.

I was trying to find words to express some of my thoughts about the beginning of this journey and as usual, someone else said it better, so I quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

As we start this journey to OK, this journey as a team working together towards a common goal, and as individuals reflecting upon our own place in this world and our ability to affect change, I challenge us all to keep our "hearts full of grace."

As midterms turn into finals, and fall into winter - as we lose hours of daylight in exchange for an earlier night, I know our lives fill up with competing priorities and responsibilities.  Remember to take time to reflect on our journey, to absorb the greatness of our path, and rely on your ASB team to inspire, support and encourage you.

Greatness lies ahead, and I am looking forward to being a witness to it!

Claire Ostrander
Associate Director, SILD

Monday, October 21, 2013


Today is the first official day of ASB 2014! I am really excited to see what this year has in store for us, I know it will be a good one. Our group is going to be incredibly hardworking and I know we all want the same thing: to go to Oklahoma to serve the community and kick some serious butt on the worksite! Before we can do that we have a ton of fundraising and learning to do. I know I am up for the challenge whose ready to join me?! Here we come!

-TL Brandon

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Special Place In My Heart

Our trip to Biloxi was three weeks ago, but what I learned and gained from that trip will be a part of me for the rest of my life. As a senior, I knew this would be my last chance to attend one of FSU’s Alternative Spring Break trips so I was thrilled when I got the call that I would have the opportunity to attend. I have already been involved with so many things on campus and felt like I had established my role as a leader on this campus, but I knew that ASB could teach me more, I just did not realize how life changing it would truly me.

This past year has not been easy at Framingham State. Preparing to graduate, a busy schedule and several problems that I have had to answer too in my various roles have lead to a stressful year. But, after attending the trip to Biloxi I have learned that I am so blessed and have so much to be thankful for. The people of Biloxi faced a disaster. Hurricane Katrina came and destroyed their houses, their land and the place they call home. Yet still they managed to find hope within themselves and face the devastation with positive attitudes. They came together as a community to face the tragedy and overcome it. And while this alone is remarkable the thing that struck me most was the passion they all seemed to have.

We met a man named Marty while we were down in Biloxi. Marty is working on creating a natural shoreline to restore Deer Island. Dear Island is being destroyed by erosion. The roots of trees on the Island are literally exposed up to two feet above the sand until they eventually fall over. Marty explained that Deer Island and other islands like it are helpful barriers in the case of a hurricane. It can help lessen the damage done to the mainland. Marty works with 4 or 5 people on his crew to create an entire shoreline on the island. A project that could take the 30 volunteers from our ASB group one month will take Marty and his crew at least until October. The hardest part is that as they work on this project the waves and weather will tear down some of the work they have done and force them redo many parts of the project before they can move on to the next step. It is a very tedious and intense project, and they have very little help. But Marty stay’s optimistic, passionate and driven. He knows that while it may not be easy, it is important to him. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t quit, he simply keeps going and keeps the passion alive inside of him.

Marty inspires me more than anyone that I have ever met. No matter where I go or what I do with my life, I hope I can be as passionate and driven as Marty is. There has not been a day since returning home that I have not thought about him and what he has taught me. ASB has made me a better person and has changed my life. The fact that I complain about something as little as having two tests in one day seems selfish and ridiculous to me now. I am so much more grateful for all that I have. This experience has been truly eye-opening and life changing and I know I will continue to do service because ASB has showed me how important it is to give back. I learned more in one week in Biloxi then I have learned in five years at FSU. Biloxi and Marty will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. 

Hannah Bruce
Class of 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One week, 29 new friends, and a lifetime of memories

I never thought that I would be excited to wake up at 6AM. I never thought I would enjoy bagging oyster shells. I never thought that after one week I would have 29 people in my life that I could genuinely call friends. I never thought I would have the privilege of meeting so many inspirational people in Biloxi, Mississippi- but I thought wrong. I'm not exactly sure what my expectations were going into ASB, but I am certain that I was underestimating the power of this experience. My eyes were opened and I learned more about myself, my trip mates, and the people of Mississippi than I ever thought possible. It would take days to recount every positive experience I had on ASB, so here are two of the most impactful moments for me:

On our fourth day at Camp Wilkes a group of ASBers were playing outside after a day of volunteering. It sounds childish even saying it- playing outside- but that's all we were doing. I stopped for a moment to just look around. I saw one game of soccer, another game of frisbee and a game of volleyball and was overcome with a sense of happiness. I was happy for two reasons. First, seeing everyone together playing like we were in elementary school, was amazing. We were a group of college students who were practically strangers less than a week ago and were now playing games, laughing, and being nothing but ourselves. It was unbelievable to see how the common bond of service could bring such a diverse group together and make us mix so seamlessly. The second reason I was happy was simply because I had taken that moment to look at what was around me. It was not until that moment that I realized how much I miss on a daily basis because I am in such a hurry. I cannot remember the last time I stopped for even 10 seconds to really look at what was around me. It sounds so simple, but that moment of stopping and observing my surroundings helped me see the "big picture" that the trip leaders always talk about. I have let myself fall into my own world far too often since coming to college, and I frequently forget that my problems are minuscule compared to what is going on in the rest of the world. And not only that, but while those big problems cannot be fixed overnight, if a group of 30 fairly inexperienced college students can help, imagine what is possible if the rest of the world pitched in every now and then. If everyone took just one minute to forget about their problems, look around, and realize how lucky they are, we could really make a difference. I laugh now thinking that watching a pick-up soccer game could make me realize all of this, but I guess the best "a-ha moments" catch you by surprise.

My second inspirational moment came while leaving Deer Island on Friday after a relatively unsuccessful morning of work. We were sent there to help with shore restoration and setting up barriers to prevent further beach erosion but the water ended up being too rough to get much accomplished. On the boat ride back to shore I was feeling pretty discouraged because it was hard to see an area that needed a lot of help but having to stop because of factors out of our control. While I was feeling disheartened and we were all joking about being stuck on that island longer than expected, it hit me that this is what Marty and the other people who work on this project have to deal with every day. I cannot imagine his frustration when he only has volunteers for the month of March and the weather takes away those extra precious hours of manpower. These people have devoted their lives to such a wonderful cause, and to have so little control over when they can work must be unbelievably difficult. However, realizing these circumstances only made me admire Marty and his team more. They are so passionate about the work that they are doing that not even the unpredictable nature of the job caused them to waiver. I hope to one day find something that I am equally as passionate about.

Like I said, it would take days and days to explain every influential moment of this trip. Lucky doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this experience, so all I can say is thank you. Thank you to the trip leaders for allowing me to be a part of this amazing experience. Thank you to the chaperones for teaching me so much. Thank you to the people of Mississippi for opening my eyes to a new culture and essentially a new world. And finally, thank you to the other participants of ASB. I have said to multiple people that I expected to help people and feel good about the work we were doing but I never expected to have so much fun, and I owe that all to our amazing group.  You all made this trip one of the best experiences of my life and I will now always think of you as family. I love everyone involved with ASB. Thank you for a beautiful week in Biloxi and for helping me make memories that I will keep with me forever.

Molly Buckley
Class of 2015

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Dont cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

March 25, 2013 (2 days after the trip)

     It's easy to say that this spring break was one of the greatest experiences of my life. ASB encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and create changes to help other people down in Biloxi, Mississippi. It's amazing what a small act of kindness can do to change someones life and turn a destroyed community into something beautiful. I met amazing volunteers, restored the environment, and bonded with 29 people who I now consider my best friends. Alternative Spring Break brought me to a journey that I will never forget.
     At first, we thought that we would be cleaning and restoring beaches that were harshly affected by the BP Oil Spill back in 2010. Fortunately, the community took care of most of the problem and it never had to be dealt with. Most of our projects were mainly the effects from Hurricane Katrina. Keep in mind that Katrina hit Biloxi 8 years ago. Even though the trip wasn't what we expected, anything that we could do to help the community will still be such an amazing experience.
     We completed numerous projects like cleaning Camp Wilkes, bagging oyster shells, restoring Deer Island, renewing a priest's home and gardening off the coast of Biloxi Beach. Projects that seem so small do make a huge difference for the ones in need of help. We talked to local volunteers that spoke to us about life changing stories. Martha, a sweet woman involved in the Agriculture for Humanity not only taught us the value of community service, but also taught us about the value of life. She had started a campaign called "Beauty Along the Beaches", where she created gardens along the coast to add a little happiness to the community. We were inspired by all the carvings of the trees that were killed by Hurricane Katrina. A local artist created them into different animals, and they all looked amazing. Martha added her gardens as a way inspiring locals and tourists that with a little help and determination, we can bring back the joy and beauty that took place before Katrina destroyed it. Martha's gave amazing advice that life is too short to waste and that one little act of kindness can create a chain reaction for so many others. The ones that are encouraged to make the change are the ones who are the most beautiful.
     Tall Steve is one of the volunteers involved with running Camp Wilkes. He told amazing stories about the giant trees the were affected severely by Katrina. Some of the trees were killed, others are still alive and remain legendary. Locals have struggled to make sure that these trees survived. For those that didn't, they were turned into carvings that currently stand along the beaches. Another local volunteer, Marty, made a goal of creating 8,000 bags of oyster shells to restore Deer Island. This island is found off the coast of Biloxi Beach, and needed to be restored after the erosion effected by Hurricane Katrina and Camille. Our teams goal was to make at least 750 bags of oyster shells; we almost made 1000 bags, which is an 1/8 of what they need to completely build a wall around Deer Island. We could easily tell that Marty and his team were impressed our hard work, and even the cuts and scratches on our legs to top it off.
     And now I can finally tell people that we have been stranded on an island. Maybe not literally, but we got a clear view of what the islands are really like due to most of the erosion. I could see all of the dead trees and their roots standing above the water, with little or no land to attach to. volunteers are taking time out of their way to create a wall along the island, so that the sand could be washed back in and stay there for any remaining hurricanes. It kills me knowing that they have to do the work themselves once all the college volunteers leave the area. We only had to experience this project once, but Marty and his small team have to do this everyday. Overall, Marty really show us that we all should all make an act of kindness out of love, not the money. His hard work with later recreate a better island that stood 8 years ago before Katrina. 
     We also cleaned and demolished a house that was once owned by a priest from a local Methodist Church. The local construction workers decided to create a better home for another priest who planned on moving in early June. Wes, one for workers in charge, told us how there are not many students like us who are willing to give up their spring breaks to help an unfamliar community. He mentioned that the we need more people like us to bring love and joy to the world. Of course, relieve stress and demolishing furniture with a crow bar was my favorite part!
     Of course the trip was not just all work and no play. What a better way to spend our trip in Mississippi then to go to a Gator Ranch! To see the alligators in person was probably the coolest experience. The air boat ride was wet and cold but completely worth it. We even got to hold a baby alligator, which was the cutest reptile in the world! Biloxi the Alligator even got to see her relatives. We could tell it was one of the greatest moments of her life. 
     The week even contained some pleasant surprises. What was thought to be a night of showers and bed time ended up being a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana! The seniors got to see the house they worked with and built with ASB 2 years ago as part of Habitat for Humanity. The emotions they felt that day made me want to experience that same feeling the next 3 years of my college career before I graduate. The house the started from nothing came out so beautiful. We then got the chance to travel through the beautiful city.
     As we all know, New Orleans was the city most affected by Hurricane Katrina, as it flooded the community and killed several people. Touring the city 8 years later was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. We traveled over the 25-mile bridge over the water to get to New Orleans. You could easily tell what buildings were new, and what still needed reconstruction. Even the graves and stone coffins were above ground due to the erosion of the cemeteries. Of course, the dinner and seafood was amazing and delicious! The night couldn't have been more perfect. We can't thank the trip leaders and chaperones enough for this amazing surprise road trip.
     And of course, spending my spring break with my favorite people was my favorite part of the trip. The trip leaders couldn't have put together a more perfect group of people. Each member has their own distinct personality, yet we all share a perfect bond. Working together and sharing one small cabin really brought us together as a family. The people I didn't know from day one are now all my best friends. We shared stories and personal topics that I normally would share with anyone else. Whether we were sleeping, eating, or working hard, we were always together 24/7. I'm pretty sure I hugged every ASBuddy that I saw around campus today. The memories and the love that we share are endless. I feel so empty and alone not being surrounded by my ASB Framily. It may sound dramatic, but it's completely true.
    Applying to ASB as a freshman was the best decision I ever made, and hopefully I can experience this moment the next 3 years of my life. Even though we never did projects involved with the Oil Spill, we still came together to help those in desperate need from a natural disaster. We as New Englanders never think much about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, yet in the south, it is completely part of their culture. I've learned that one little action to cause a chain reaction. Any helpful action that one can make can create a huge difference. I've helped make a difference, and went on an incredible trip with an amazing group of people. Be involved as early as possible, because I'm so far having the greatest college experience of my life. ASB 2013 with be a trip I honestly will never forget. I love you guys, and thank you Alternative Spring Break for changing my life.

Katie Durst
Class of 2016

My ASB Framily :)

Jenna Papotto

I've been home for two days and I don't think I've gone 20 minutes without talking about my trip to Biloxi. I feel extremely bad for my friends and family because it is all I talk about. In only a short week I experienced one of the best times of my life. I will be corny and admit that it changed my life. I now look at everything around me in a different way because  of the trip. The people I met and the experiences I had changed my perspective on life. I never expected that the trip to Mississippi would change me as much as it did. I'm proud of myself and the 29 other people who joined me on the wonderful trip to Biloxi.

         So here's some of the day to day activities I recorded in my journal throughout the trip:

Day 1: The first day after arrival we were assigned to work with Horticulture for Humanity. My first thoughts after finding out what we were doing for the day were: What about the oil spill? Yes, we came down south expecting to help with an oil spill that corrupted the gulf. Little did we know that the south was STILL suffering from Katrina and they needed our help in other places. I was completely content with helping any cause as long as someone or something was getting helped. We worked in the Katrina Sculpture Garden right on the coastline of Biloxi. This was one of the highlights of my trip, the moment we met Martha. Martha taught us about the gardens, Katrina, and about life. The gardens were not just there to look nice, but to restore faith in the people of the south. They were the color when everything around them seemed to be dark. We weeded, trimmed, and cut down bushes to clean up the entire garden. The best part of the garden was the sculptures made from damaged trees from Katrina. They took something damaged and made it beautiful. It's clear that these gardens mean a lot to the people of the south because they thanked us with a honk as they walked by. The gardens were a reminder to the people of Biloxi that that they will recover and their beautiful home will be restored once again.

Day 2: I got in synch with my inner construction worker and worked on a pastors house. In transition for the new pastor to move in, a group of volunteers and a sweet man named Wes worked on completely renovating the four bedroom home next to the church. When we arrived, a lot of the demo was already done. We were assigned to help take out window silts, remove counter tops, take out paneling, and cleaning up the yard. Although they all seem like very little things, the little things add up. That is the biggest lesson I took away from our day of work. Yes we may of just raked leaves and cleaned up inside, but if we didn't help that's an extra day of work they would have had to do. My favorite part of the day was working in the kitchen with Wes. He would begin to take something out or nail something in on his own, and then he would stop himself so I could help. He knew we were eager to help and he was happy to show us. I think he helped us as much as we helped him.

Day 3: Our third day we headed out toward the ice  cold shore line about an hour from camp. Alright, ice cold is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was cold out. We warmed right up the second we started working. This day was such an eye opening day for my. It defiantly consisted of the most physical labor. Our third day we met the kindest and most hard working man in Mississippi, Marty. Marty worked for the Department of Marine Resources and was working on a project solo. Besides the volunteers he received during spring break he was basically a one man team. This just goes to show that one person can really make a huge difference. Marty's project worked on restoring the shore line and preventing erosion along Deer island. The oyster shells we bagged will be nailed to the sea floor and used as a barrier and for fish to use as shelter. In just a few days the volunteers were able to bag over 1000 bags of oysters. This made a huge dent in his progress and it was clear that he appreciated the help. He left us each with a hug and a huge thank you.

 It's people like Marty, Martha, and Wes that truly make the hard work worth it. They give hope for future generations. I learned from each of them and the many people I met through out the week that everyone has a story they want to tell. They all were more than happy to share the personal details of their lives to show us why they work so hard and do the things they do. These people have gone through so much yet we see them stand strong years later because they never gave up. The "little things" they do to help out Mississippi and the gulf really do add up. Raking leaves may seem like an annoying choir like your parents ask you to do, but if you dont't do it who will. From holding open a door to sweeping a floor, these little service add up to something much bigger. Service should be a part of your everyday life and it will sure be a part of mine. This trip taught me so much I can't fit it all into one blog. I made 29 new friends and plenty of new friends down in Mississippi. I wouldn't have wanted to spend my spring break any other way. My experience in Biloxi will be one that I will carry with me throughout my life. I hope to return there one day and once again extend a helping hand. I am so thankful I was given this wonderful experience.

Jenna Papotto
Class of 2014

"Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - H. Thurman

     There's nothing quite like the rose-colored glasses you look at life through once you return from Alternative Spring Break. I'm an RA in Towers, and last night (Sunday) I was on duty just after I walked into my room at school and dropped my backpack and suitcase and kicked off my rain boots. I stayed up late unpacking and reading my motivational mailboxes, and then was woken up at 6 am to cover a couple unexpected emergency hours at the Security Desk. Before ASB, that rude awakening was probably something that would have groaned and whined about, but as I sat at the desk from 6 to 8 am, I thought about waking up around that time with my 29 ASB friends (probably to the sound of Carolyn catapulting herself off of the top bunk). Mostly, though, I thought about how lucky I am to have my job, to have a place to live that I can call my own, and my shot at a great education.
     ASB never fails to quiet my mind and to force me out of myself- my worries, stresses, insecurities- and think purely of what I can do to make life better for another person, family, or community. I never feel so much clarity and sense of purpose as when I'm on ASB. When we were heading to New Orleans after visiting the house on Daisy Street in Covington, Louisiana, Molly turned to Carolyn and I and explained that she felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be in that moment. I was so happy for her, and I knew the feeling; last year, during my first ASB in Joplin, Missouri, I felt as if someone was creating all of the perfect signs to ensure that I was exactly where I was meant to be. The sun coming out of the clouds at Joplin High was my perfect I-belong-here-moment, and whenever I look at the tattoo I got on that trip, I am reminded of the experience that made me realize my place in the world. I, like Molly, have been forever changed from my first ASB experience, and, although it's taken a full year to completely realize it, my ASB experience has made me decide to change the direction of my life. Being a trip leader in Biloxi this year was easily the best thing I've ever done, and I've never enjoyed the feeling of being stressed out so much in my entire life. This work makes me come alive. It allows me to dedicate my life to something truly important, something good. I can't say thank you enough to Molly, Carolyn, Angel, Kendra, Emily, and Lorretta for guiding me and molding me into the person I'm meant to be. I'm glad to say that (after an advising appointment with Emily, of course!) I will be parting ways with my Elementary Education major and becoming a full sociology major. It's scary, because I've wanted to be a teacher for four years now, but fear is no good reason not to follow my dream. I want to submerge myself in this good work for the rest of my life- I want to make a career out of service. I've just got to follow my passion and hold on for the best :)
Recruitment and Retention Trip Leader

Melissa Skerry-ASB 2013 experience of a lifetime

*originally written on trip*

Marty showed everyone the trueness of loving what you do, and not sticking to something just for money. He taught us all the importance of ecorestoration, and we even helped him build up a shoreline for a beach in need-this required us to bag bags upon bags (that were made of chicken wire) of oyster shells, which he would use as safe and natural way to rebuild what the hurricanes had eroded on beaches around Deer Island. At the close of the day with him, he said he was blown away by our enthusiasm as a group, and gave each and everyone of us a warm hug, and a thank you that meant the world. Had we not helped him that day, his work would of been pushed back till about October! Seeing how all that help really made a difference for this kind hard working man, made us all feel amazing at the end of the day.

When we all thought we were heading home to shower, we fell asleep with the sweet dreams of showers and naps-little did we know that our trip leaders had something up their sleeves. We woke up to find that we were all still in the van, and that we had just passed the state line of Mississippi, into Louisiana. Confused at first, we all didn't know what to expect-we were told nothing, so we just sat tight in our seats, and waited till we approached our destination. We were all delightfully pleased to see that the leaders had taken us to the habitat for humanity development where tons of houses built by volunteers lined the streets. One house in particular stood out for the seniors on this special surprise trip to New Orleans-and it was a finished home, that they had started to builed 2 years prior. Seeing the passion and emotion come over their faces, to see that they had been apart of something that changed a life, was breath taking. We were all teary eyed, and hugging the seniors who were also crying out of joy and sadness, that this was the last trip that they would be able to serve others. After we all hugged, and were told stories of that ASB 2011 trip, the leaders jumped in  and said "Get in the vans, we are going to New Orleans!" the day had been amazing already, but to be surprised again with that? now that was something else. We experienced the emotion and joy of volunteering all day, then got to enjoy and learn a little about New Orleans-and enjoy a cultural treat, of Jambalaya and other food of New Orleans.

A lot happened on this trip, from being 'stranded" on an island, to holding on as I explored the everglades, looking for Alligators. Everything on this trip was a learning experience, and something that I will hold dear to me for the rest of my life. My heart will always have an entire section devoted to my ASB 2013 family. Before the trip, I had no real friends at FSU and even considered transferring-but after spending a year fundraising, and having meals with these wonderful people, I am happy to say that I have made 29 wonderful friends who I will keep with me to infinity and beyond. I reccommend that everyone apply for this opportunity of a lifetime-helping to make a difference, learning new things, and making new friends along the way-how can you say no to that?!

-Melissa Skerry
class of 2014