The University of Great Falls is a place of uncommon courage. We believe our students can best demonstrate their uncommon courage by participating in community service projects. Service projects help our students build and grow as leaders, as they work together for the betterment of their community.

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Alternative Spring Break-Students Travel to New Orleans

 

Alternative Spring Break
Students travel to New Orleans
Spring 2012

 

 

On March of 2012, eight University of Great Falls students traveled during spring break to New Orleans, Louisiana to rebuild homes for residents who fell victim to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Students worked as a team to help reconstruct some of the 28,000 homes destroyed by what’s been deemed the costliest natural disaster in US history. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by the hurricane and property damages estimated at a staggering 81 million dollars.

As a way of aligning themselves with the poor, students gave up more than just spring break for their New Orleans mission trip, with instructions to leave behind all electronic devices, including cameras, cell phones, ipods, watches and make-up. Part of the mission taught students to live simple, with each student given $3 per day for food in an attempt to experience first-hand the poverty being faced by survivors. The intended goal for the trip was to focus attention on a community-in-need, practicing the University’s message of “uncommon courage” while working together as a team and other volunteer groups, in a joint effort to bring a vibrant and self-sustainable recovery and rebirth to the region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2011

 

Alternative Spring Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve University of Great Falls students spent the 2011 Spring Break volunteering their time with Habitat for Humanity.  

 

Catherine Gray, a sophomore, English and Art major participated in the Alternative Spring Break for the second time.  She stated, "I think it is really important that the school has this opportunity to offer.  This is a more meaningful way to spend Spring Break and I am grateful for the school for funding it and offering us a way to reach out to those in need." 

 

During their five days in Spokane, students received an orientation to Habitat for Humanity and visited some of the sites where houses have been built, as well as visited future construction sites. 

 
Students spent the majority of their time helping with the organization of a new Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The ReStore sells to the public new and slightly used building materials, appliances, furniture and home furnishing at a fraction of the retail price. Funds generated at the ReStore are used to serve families and change lives. 
 
In addition to their service at Habitat for Humanity, students visited the elderly and retired Sisters of Providence at Mount St. Joseph Residence in Spokane.  Students also had the opportunity to attend Mass and share lunch with the Sisters. 
 
Students celebrated Mardi Gras on Tuesday, followed by a morning Mass on Ash Wednesday before returning to the University of Great Falls.
 
The Alternative Spring Break gives students from the University of Great Falls the opportunity to be part of the Providence Health & Services mission, serving the poor and vulnerable. They will spend the majority of the time with each other, building a bond as they help others.
 

This was the second year the University of Great Falls offered an Alternative Spring Break. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Click here to view more photos from Alternative Spring Break-Habitat for Humanity

 

 

El Salvador Mission Trip 

December 2010

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten University of Great Falls students spent part of their winter break on a mission trip, volunteering their time to build a home for a needy family in El Salvador 

 

Last spring a number of students expressed interest and brought to the table the idea of a mission trip. They wanted to do something more to assist those in need.  “Since coming to the University of Great Falls, I have realized how important service work really is. I feel like this is a way for our school, as a Catholic University, to get out there and perform service work and show our Catholic identity,” noted Andrea Spake, a sophomore Biology Major. 

 
Once the trip was posted, it filled up within two weeks.
 
Upon their arrival in El Salvador, they traveled to the small community of Angelo Montano, which is one of the poorest, underserved communities in the region. This is where they began construction of a two bedroom home for a homeless family that has been instrumental in helping others build their homes. 
 
During their time in El Salvador, students also participated in a variety of activities. They visited with families and survivors of the Salvadoran Civil War, worked with children on reading, and visited a hospital. 
 
In addition, the students had the opportunity to meet Father Dean Brackley, educator at Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), a Jesuit University in San Salvador. They also visited the U.S. Embassy and the location where Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred. 
 

Emily Busby, a sophomore History Major and a Political Science and Sociology Minor, stated, “This trip to El Salvador was important to me because it was a humbling experience. I was able to see first-hand what it is like to have nothing. I experienced the culture and learned for myself how to be a humble person.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view more photos from the El Salvador Mission Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourteen University of Great Falls students spent the 2010 Spring Break in Seattle, volunteering their time to support the Haiti relief efforts.

 

Directly following the January earthquake in Haiti, University students collected money that was sent to Providence Health International, a ministry of Providence Health & Services, the parent organization of the University, in an effort to provide assistance and relief funds to those affected by the Haiti earthquake. Students also raised awareness of the needs in Haiti disaster and came up with the idea for the Alternative Spring Break. Students wanted to take a more proactive approach and do what they could to help in the Haiti relief efforts.   

 
Students worked at the Providence Health International warehouse, loading medical supplies and other necessities that will be sent to Haiti.   Providence Health International manages a warehouse in partnership with other Catholic health systems and international development organizations. The warehouse receives and prepares medical donation for shipment to hospitals and clinics in other countries. 
 
Over the week, students also participated in a variety of activities. Students learned about the issues of human trafficking and participated in a silent prayer vigil in downtown Seattle to stop the demand and raise awareness of the issues surrounding human trafficking.
 
Students also worked with children in need and served meals to the homeless and hungry. Additionally, students worked with the L’arche Community, where they interacted and worked with developmentally disabled adults. The students actively practiced the core values at the heart of the L’arche Community: loving, compassionate and forgiving relationships. They concluded their day with an evening of bowling with L’arche Community members.
 
Students also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of prayer and worship styles, including Gospel Mass at Saint Therese in Seattle, as well as attending a beginner yoga meditation class and Taize prayer at Seattle University.  In addition, students participated in evening vespers at the Church of the Apostles.

This was the first year the University of Great Falls offered an Alternative Spring Break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view photos from Alternative Spring Break-Haiti Relief Efforts 

 
Student Testimonials
 
Alternative Spring Break-Haiti Relief Efforts
 

 Jessilynn Olsen

My favorite part of the experience was working to assist in the Haiti relief efforts. Knowing you are helping people and knowing you are making someone’s life better is a good feeling.

 

  Catherine Gray

I decided to participate in the Alternative Spring Break because it seemed like a good way to support the need for Haiti. This was a way to help Haiti without actually going there. On top of that, the week wound up to be a lot of fun.

 

 Zachary Liedtke

I know I am going to be a teacher, but the Alternative Spring Break really made me consider what I would do with my off time. I have thought about looking into these organizations and working with them when I am finished with school.   This was just another way I could help out. I really enjoyed learning how our efforts are going to directly affect those in Haiti. 

 
 
 
El Salvador Mission Trip
 

Zach Johnson

I wasn't sure what to expect when I volunteered for this trip, but I enjoy helping people so I thought that it would be a good experience, and the country did not let me down. The people in the community of Tierra Blanca were extremely nice and treated you like family. That in itself was enough to make someone want to make another trip, but that was not all. The Sisters down in El Salvador were extremely nice and hospitable. Not only was everyone welcoming and friendly, but our group had some experiences that will last a lifetime, from going to the fair, to playing soccer with the kids. All in all, I wish I could have built ten houses to just repay the people of El Salvador for what they gave me on this trip. It was a trip I would like to make again, and a trip I think everyone should make once in their lifetime.                              

 

 Andrea Spake 

 

 

John Lennon once wrote, “Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can.” I can honestly say that before going to El Salvador, I couldn’t imagine a life without all the things society tells us we need here in America. A simpler life is now something I strive to live. They may not have material possessions or money, but the people of El Salvador have something much more beautiful; they have a spirit for life. The idea of family and love for their neighbor reigns high in the countryside. Never have I felt more welcomed by someone I just met. Families were eager to tell their stories and receive us into their homes. From the trip that the Sisters of Providence offered me, I have a new appreciation of life and a willingness to take any opportunity to help my brothers and sisters of mankind. I see the need in the world for not another American trying to impose our lifestyle, but to go with an open heart to learn and experience their lifestyle. 

 

 

Christina Bruce

The trip to El Salvador was not only amazing, but life changing as well. It was my first time out of the country and it was way more than I ever could have imagined. The people in El Salvador have to be some of the most forgiving, kind, and humble people to have gone through what they have and still be able to find the silver lining in their lives. I noticed that I experienced almost a reverse culture shock when I came back to the United States. It hit me how materialistic and time oriented we are; everything is so rushed. It probably didn’t help that I came back home during the holidays, but the trip definitely helped me realize and appreciate everything that I have in my life and the different opportunities that I have been so blessed to participate in, such as sports in college. The trip also helped to center my life. It’s hard when you go off to school. Often you can get caught up in the craziness of school and the different pressures that are presented. But by going on the trip, it really helped me to realize what is important to me in my life and also helped me to re-center my life around God and be thankful for all the wonderful blessings He has given me. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences in my life, and I am so thankful to everyone who donated either their time, money, or resources that made this trip possible!

  

Zachary Liedtke

We had the wonderful opportunity to help build a house for a lady and her children. On the first day we picked up leaves from the foundation. On the second day we worked on the foundation. On the third day we poured cement into the foundation. On the last day of the project, we started putting layers of bricks on the house. Along with that we walked around different neighborhoods to hand out candy to little kids. The experience was amazing because the people are so grateful even though they had so little. When we went to one couple’s house, they talked about how they have not been able to grow corn for the last two years and that was their main source of food. They were the friendliest people I have ever met. They shook our hands and gave us all a big hug. It was by far the greatest experience of my life. In addition, we learned a lot about the history of El Salvador and the impacts that other countries have had on the culture and life of the Salvadorians.

 
 

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