Emporia State students spend spring break helping in New York

April 12, 2011

A group of 17 Emporia State University students who traveled to Yonkers, N.Y., for the first-ever ESU Alternative Spring Break trip. Blythe Eddy of ESU’s Center for Student Involvement was the staff sponsor for the trip.

The students who attended were:

  • Laura Bosiljevac, Jasmine Greene and Marah Hays of Emporia;
  • Jennifer Cheray of Topeka;
  • Caelee Gibbs of Solomon;
  • Holly Glynn of Prairie Village;
  • Claudia Gomez-Beltran and Maria Gomez-Beltran of Lebo;
  • Lainie Harber of Whitewater;
  • Ashley Justice of Hutchinson;
  • Ashley McCullough of Council Grove;
  • Laura Mersman of Wetmore;
  • Kalyna Nelson of El Paso, Texas;
  • Jonathan Rivers of Manhattan;
  • Brooke Schmidt of Eureka;
  • Gerri Sprecker of Americus; and
  • Aaron Thomsen of Hartford.

While there, the crew painted a soup kitchen and new Habitat for Humanity office, built a tool shed and planters, tarred a foundation and secured baseboards and placed joists for a new five-bedroom home for a family of eight.

The ESU students worked with peers from the University of Wisconsin to help Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge. The ESU trip was student-led and organized through Community Hornets, ESU’s community-service organization.

The ESU students had this to say about the trip:

  • Jasmine Greene of Emporia, Kan.: “The Spring 2011 Alternative Spring Break trip was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've had thus far. We were able to not only make difference, but to also speak with people from the area and to develop a personal understanding of why the work we were doing was so important to the community. The level of poverty and homelessness that I witnessed firsthand was a whole new ball game compared to what I thought I knew before this trip,” Greene concluded.
  • Laura Mersman of Holton, Kan.: "Alternative Spring Break was very enlightening and helped me to appreciate how fortunate I am. It opened my eyes to the poverty in our nation and has inspired me to continue making a difference!"
  • Gerri Sprecker of Emporia, Kan.: "Alternative Spring Break really made me think about how much I have and how lucky I truly am. It was a life changing experience and in the end I would not have changed one part of the entire thing because I learned so much."
  • Caelee Gibbs of Solomon, Kan.: “Alternative Spring Break was a humbling experience that makes you truly value each other. At the end of the day the 17 other people on that trip were some of the greatest people I could have been with and we were making a difference in someone else's life. It makes you appreciate wherever it is you call home.”
  • Holly Glynn of Prairie Village, Kan.: “Alternative Spring Break was inspiring, challenging and beautiful. I was inspired by the kindness of strangers who quickly became friends, challenged by the cold of March in New York, and I found beauty in an organization that so freely gives of itself to others. It was an experience I will forever treasure and hope to be part of again.”
  • Kalyna Nelson of El Paso, Texas: " Alternative Spring Break was a great opportunity to step out of my own community and jump into another and see what can be done to help others. The week taught me handy skills as well as a variety of what the world has to offer when it comes to serving those in need."
  • Marah Hays of Clay Center, Kan.: " Alternative Spring Break was an amazing experience. It was a great week of community service, fun, and bonding with other students! The people with Habitat for Humanity are so welcoming and really appreciated all the hard work we accomplished while we were in New York. I would definitely go on ASB again!"
  • Jonathan Rivers of Manhattan, Kan.: "They say that life begins where your comfort zone ends. No truer statement could apply to Alternative Spring Break! It was an awesome experience that strengthened the ties of my two biggest passions — people and service. While it may have been challenging at times, the end results were always rewarding!"
  • Aaron Thomsen of Hartford, Kan.: “Alternative Spring Break was an awesome experience that was a blast and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again!”
  • Ashley McCullough of Council Grove, Kan.: "Anyone can build a house. It takes a community to build a home."




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