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Seniors, environmental justice to benefit from Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break looks different from past years' largely outdoor activities (above), as the annual volunteerism program goes virtual for 2021. (Sacramento State/Robert Neep)

Sacramento State’s Alternative Spring Break  a program of the Community Engagement Center (CEC)  allows students to spend their week away from classes doing good for others. 

“Alternative Break offers opportunities for student to volunteer with local, community-based organizations to help strengthen those communities, improve lives, and to transform their own lives in the process,” said Anthony Fajardo, the CEC’s VISTA Volunteer specialist.

Since 2007, hundreds of Sac State students have, for instance, picked up trash along the American River Parkway, helped people in Sonoma and Napa counties recover from the devastating 2017 fires, worked on campus sustainability projects, and gathered fruit from neighborhood yards for Harvest Sacramento.  

Jasmyn Washington, a History major who has helped plan Alternative Break the past two years, values the perspective the program lends on community issues and the appropriate resources to address them. (Courtesy of Jasmyn Washington)

Last year’s plans to plant trees on campus and join with Sacramento Area Congregations Together to help residents complete their U.S. Census form were scrapped because of the pandemic. 

Alternative Spring Break 2021 is virtual, and dozens of students have signed up to volunteer for two projects over three days:  

“Bringing Strength and Encouragement to Seniors”: The CEC is partnering with the nonprofit Eskaton Senior Care and Services of Northern California for activities on Tuesday, March 23, and Thursday, March 25. Via Zoom, the students will host a health-and-wellness seminar, an exercise session, trivia games, and a travel presentation. 

“Volunteers for Environmental Justice”: On Wednesday, March 24, students will create social media content for the Cosumnes River Preserve, a 51,000-acre nature space about 20 miles south of Sacramento, and learn how to get involved with environmental justice efforts locally and throughout the nation. 

“I’ve been a part of planning for Alternative Break for the past two years,” said Jasmyn Washington, a History major and CEC California Campus Compact Community Engagement student fellow. 

“Taking the time to volunteer gets my mind off stressful things in my life and instead lets me think about making someone else’s life easier or happier,” she said. “It’s important for Sac State students to volunteer because it gives us a firsthand perspective on the issues our neighbors face and the resources to help them.” 

Lorena Martinez, a Social Work major and another CEC student fellow, echoes Washington’s enthusiasm Alternative Break and community service work. 

“I have always liked to be involved in my community as a volunteer, because it allows me to give back to the place I live in and love,” she said.  

“Although college students might enjoy their spring break doing fun things such as playing or relaxing, I find it important to give back, especially because we are still living through the pandemic and many people could benefit from our volunteering.” 

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About Dixie Reid

Dixie Reid has been a writer for Sac State since 2012 after decades as a newspaper reporter. A Texas native with the accent to prove it, Dixie is crazy about “dear friends, big dogs, good books, great food, day trips, baking cookies, California sunshine (and fog), and kind people.”

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