Students head south for spring break volunteer work


Students work on a new home in New Orleans during last year's Alternative Spring Break.

Not all Brock students will be relaxing on a beach in the sunny south this spring break.

Just ask Sandy Howe.

One of Howe’s roles as a residence life co-ordinator at Brock is to plan the Alternative Spring Break Program, where students engage in volunteer and service work.

“We really hope this week provides students with a completely different learning experience than what is provided in their daily classes, as well the chance to build some great friendships with their teammates along the way,” said Howe.

“All three initiatives really provide students with the opportunity to experience a different culture and lifestyle than their own, interact closely with local residents, and learn from them.”

This year Brock will have three projects on the go Feb. 19 to 27:

  • Dominican Republic – 20 residence students and one staff member will travel to the Dominican, staying at and helping an orphanage with an organization called Orphanage Outreach. They will also teach English in local schools.
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast – 53 students from across campus and two staff members will travel to Ocean Springs to work with an organization called Hands On Mississippi. They will build houses and help with the continuing recovery from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. They will also do a small beach clean-up project on the coast and celebrate Mardi Gras.
  • St. Catharines – For students who are staying in the area, their opportunities include cooking a meal for homeless or at-risk youth with The RAFT (Resource Association For Teens), doing some painting for the YWCA, and sorting clothing donations and assisting with a pasta dinner fundraiser with Start Me Up Niagara.

Fiona Clark, a fourth-year Honours Psychology student and peer team leader from Newmarket, went to New Orleans in 2010 with the Brock program, where she built houses with Habitat for Humanity. She’s also done volunteer work in Ecuador and Mexico. She is off to Mississippi this year.

“I hope that I learn as much as I possibly can from this experience. I want to meet new people, learn from their hardships and hopefully help them in any way that I can,” she said.

Matt Wettlaufer, a first-year Accounting Co-op student from Toronto, has lofty goals for his trip to the Dominican. He went on a similar service trip to Costa Rica while in high school.

“I hope to make a lasting difference in the community I am visiting and hope that my services will make an impact in the future of the children’s lives,” he said.

The Dominican group is collecting school supplies and hopes to fill 21 hockey bags with donations for the schools with which they will be working.

To donate, contact Howe at 905-688-5550 x4216 or

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