General Information

Mission
Alvernia University Alternative Breaks organizes weekend and week-long service and immersion trips for students to inspire and empower them to lead lives dedicated to serving the underserved, promoting peace and justice, and working towards the common good.  Centered around the pillars of education, direct service, and reflection, Alternative Breaks trips address pertinent social issues and provide students the opportunity to learn, serve, and reflect with a small community that fosters personal growth and promotes radical love.  The hope is that these short-term experiences will challenge students to make a lifelong commitment to servant leadership and active citizenship.

Vision
Alvernia University Alternative Breaks envisions an engaged campus that values community and promotes the common good.

Preparation
Alternative Breaks is a large commitment.  Participants will meet regularly throughout the year leading up to their break.  Meetings will have a variety of topics--icebreakers, introduction to Alternative Breaks, team-building activities, movies or information about the trip issue, Drug and Alcohol Policy (We are illegal drug and alcohol free!), and, of course, fundraising.

All trips will also participate in some large-group Alternative Breaks activities such as the Kick-Off Meeting, Prep4Break Sessions and so on.

Student Leadership
Each Alternative Breaks trip has one student leader to accompany one staff leader. "Alternative Break Site Leaders" will help plan meetings, organize fundraisers, communicate with their group, plan reflections, gain valuable life skills, and have a ton of fun!  You do not need to have been on a trip before to be a leader.

Applications
Applications will be available on PAX in the Fall.  The deadline is September 14, 2018. Contact Cristina.Paden@alvernia.edu for more information. 

2018-2019 Alternative Break Sites

Immersion Experience: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (January 5-12, 2019)
A week of teaching, serving and learning in which students will assist the Bernardine Sisters (founders of Alvernia) with the operations of their school and experience life in the Los Tres Brazos barrio. They will build relationships to span miles and last lifetimes.

We invite you to support our partnership with the Bernardine Sisters in Santo Domingo. 

Interfaith Encounters: Philadelphia, PA (March 3-9, 2019)
A week long immersion experience for college students to meet, interact, and work with members of religious groups different from their own.  The program combines interfaith learning, visits to 5-6 diverse faith communities, and intensive community service.

Franciscan Mission Service: Washington D.C. (March 3-9, 2019)
Build intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical awareness of the root causes and realities of poverty in the United States and work with local agencies that serve those in poverty through this alternative break to Washington, DC.

Franciscan Missionary Union: Cuba (March 3-9, 2019)
Live in solidarity for a week and learn about life in Cuba. Students on this trip will visit several cities in Cuba and understand the expression of the Catholic faith within Cuban communities.

Helping at Home: Reading, PA (May 12-18, 2019)
“Next door to the university and yet worlds away.”  This phrase encapsulates what students experience while ministering to people in the Reading area.  While assisting diverse non-profit agencies, students are exposed to the vast social and economic inequalities that characterize the United States’ urban landscape, of which Reading is a poignant microcosm.

Bethlehem Farm: Alderson, West Virginia (May 12-18, 2019)
Live simply in prayerful community while caring for creation in a beautiful part of West Virginia.

The Romero Center: Camden, NJ (May 12-18, 2019)
An urban, service-learning immersion experience rooted in the Catholic faith tradition. Offering a point of access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden, NJ and its surrounding communities, this is a unique educational and life changing opportunity.

Fundraising

To keep the cost of the trips low for students, Alternative Breaks has a rigorous fundraising regimen.   All students are required to participate in fundraising.  The biggest and most successful fundraiser is our letter-writing campaign, deemed "Adopt-a-Team."  Each student will write letters to friends, families, local businesses, politicians, and more, asking for donations (i.e. adoption) for his or her trip.  In addition, each group will perform various large group fundraiser throughout the year such as selling gift cards, working concessions at the Sovereign Center, selling pizza, or doing a bake sale.  There is no specific amount each student needs to raise, but rather a goal that each trip must raise.

 

Alternative Breaks

Previous Alternative Break Participants

Chloe Gletow volunteering at Millmont Elementary
Chloe Gletow
Previous Alternative Breaker
Alyssa Keifer '18 enjoys a quiet moment.
Alyssa Keifer
Previous Alternative Breaker
Melisa Rivera by construction gate
Melisa Rivera
Previous Alternative Break Participant and Current Alternative Break Site Leader

Previous Alternative Break Faculty Advisors

Polly Mathys wheels her "Polly Trolly" though graduation
Polly Mathys
Previous AB Faculty Advisor
Saida Abdul-Aziz
Saida Abdul-Aziz
Previous AB Faculty Advisor
Judith Schrepfer
Judith Schrepfer
Previous AB Faculty Advisor
Questions?
Contact Cristina.Paden@alvernia.edu for more information about Alternative Breaks.