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Illinois State participates in spring break alternative

For the past seven years, Illinois State University has offered its students, faculty and staff an alternative to warm-weather joviality for spring break.

This year, the Alternative Spring Break program sent close to 100 students, faculty and staff to work in Tennessee, Louisiana and Alabama.  Three teams went to Nashville to work with Catholic Charities Refugee Services, the Nashville Rescue Mission and the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, addressing issues of hunger, homelessness and disability concerns.  Four teams went to New Orleans and helped Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Three teams built a house with Habitat for Humanity in Phenix City.

While in Nashville, many of the spring break participants met for breakfast with Dr. Lynn Webb ’71, MA ’73, an alum who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Illinois State.  Webb is chief of staff at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine.  He and his wife, Marilyn (Butcher) Webb ’72, who is also a mathematics alumna and is a school principal, are active with Nashville area alumni events.  Lynn Webb was a member of the Redbird Marching Band and currently plays trombone for the Vanderbilt Pep Band.

Teams left on March 11 and returned on March 18 from Normal.  The Alternative Spring Break program is a student-run organization whose mission is to move enthusiastic volunteers to lifelong active citizens and agents for social change.  The campus chapter is a member of BreakAway, a national organization which helps train, assist and connect campuses and communities in promoting quality alternative break programs that inspire lifelong active citizenship.

Steve Klay ’82, MS ’83, coordinator in the Dean of Students Office at Illinois State led one of the Louisiana teams.  “Illinois State did not offer alternative spring break opportunities when I was here as a student,” Klay said.  “I have thought about participating in the Spring Break Alternative program since I came back to work at Illinois State.  This year I was able to coordinate the time away from my job and family, and I’m looking forward to working with my team in rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.”

Katie Ladage

Katie Ladage, a junior early childhood education major from Loami, chose to spend her spring break helping rebuild in St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans. She and five others replaced drywall in a retired couple’s home. “After seeing all the photos and videos of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, I knew I had to go and help,” said Ladage. “The amount of damage is incredible to view first-hand. I’m glad I chose to spend my spring break helping to alleviate a small part of that damage.”

To qualify as a quality alternative, spring break opportunities must meet goals of strong direct service, alcohol and drug free, diversity, orientation, education, training, reflection and re-orientation. Participants learn about the issues they will be addressing prior to the trip and why the services are necessary, and they work in the local community addressing the issues they will be working with during their spring break trip.

Alumni who are interested in connecting with Spring Break Alternative program teams for the 2007 year can e-mail Ashley Venneman or telephone her at (309) 438-3215.

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