Temple Times Online Edition
    MARCH 30, 2006
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For spring break, Temple Volunteers choose service over South Beach

Spring break usually affords weary students the chance to rejuvenate themselves for the remainder of the semester.

However, some ambitious students decided instead to turn their week of rest into a week of valuable service (and hard work) that they — and the people they helped — will not soon forget.

This year, a record 60 Temple students participated in four unique spring break service programs:

New Orleans

new orleans
Photo by Betsy Manning

Displaced University of New Orleans student Peter Seltzer said that although he’s now settled at Temple, he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t help his home city in its time of need.

After gleaning support from the campus in the form of funding and donations, he went back, bringing three vans of Temple students and administrators with him for an emotional homecoming that was full of grueling labor and a true realization of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

The group gutted seven homes, some of which had not been entered since the hurricane struck in August.

Campus support for the trip included monetary donations from Temple Volunteers (the University’s community service office), the Temple Outdoors Club, the Associate Dean of Students’ Office and Student Activities. Also, Sodexho provided meals, the Housing Office donated two vans, and Campus Safety Services provided a van and safety equipment for the volunteers.

“You can watch TV [or] read the newspaper and see a picture of a destroyed house. But then you realize there’s a whole city of 60,000 houses like that. The enormity of the destruction is really hard to grasp, even when you’re down there.”

- Peter Seltzer, sophomore business major

Laredo, Texas

Photo courtesy Jason Riley

Eighteen students and five administrators braved the Texas sun for the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge, which Temple has participated in for the past six years.

The volunteers spent the week refurbishing a donated house that will be sold to buy two more Habitat homes.

“While applying, I just thought it could be a spring break where I helped people, but instantly it totally changed my world view concerning social justice and the little ways that individuals can contribute.”

- Nicole Finnie, junior sociology major

Lamar Wallace (pictured at left), a freshman biochemistry major from Virginia, hammers for a worthy cause at a Habitat for Humanity house in Laredo, Texas, over spring break.


Belle Glade, Fla.

Photo courtesy Ryan Phelan
Fourteen Temple students cleaned and landscaped in Belle Glade, Fla., during spring break.

Ryan Phelan, a senior marketing major, organized a trip to south Florida through the University’s Catholic Newman Center. Fourteen students spent the week cleaning and landscaping for a church and for homebound people through a program called “Just Checking.”

“The people would tell you stories of what they’ve been through, and you’d think, ‘Man, I thought I had a bad day last week.’ It helped put a lot of things in perspective, and I see myself doing things differently just because of that experience.”

- Ed Gasiewski, sophomore broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major

North Philadelphia

Photo by Neal Santos

The Spring Break Stay program, organized through Temple Volunteers, offered students the chance to make a difference in the University’s own community at the Woodstock Family Center and a local Habitat for Humanity house.

“The trip gave me more motivation to remain involved in local service projects because it is our responsibility as Temple students to simply be a good neighbor.”

- Neal Santos, sophomore journalism major

Freshman Christine Kim (pictured at left) and a young helper wash their hands after painting a room at the Woodstock Family Center during the Spring Break Stay service trip in North Philadelphia.

For more information about community service opportunities over winter and spring breaks and throughout the year, contact Jason Riley, assistant director for Temple Volunteers, at rileyj@temple.edu.

- By Patti Truant