General Information

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.

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

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 Break has one or two student leaders to accompany one staff advisor. 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!  

Applications are available on PAX.

2021-2022 Alternative Break Sites

Alvernia Bound: A Tradition of Service (Aug. 13-18, 2022)
Alternative Breaks are an Alvernia tradition where students get to immerse themselves in a week of service, reflection and community bonding. This trip will allow incoming students to get acquainted with Alvernia, its Franciscan tradition, and our surrounding Reading community!

St. Francis Inn: Philadelphia (Oct. 1-2, 2022)
St. Francis Inn serves the poor and homeless in Philadelphia by serving food and providing basic needs. Volunteers will help cook, clean, and serve! For Philadelphia Campus students only.

Helping at Home: Reading, Pa. (Jan. 6-12, 2023)
“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.

Romero Center: Camden, N.J. (March 4-11, 2023)
The Romero Center offers a point of access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden, NJ, and its surrounding communities in need. They invite participants to enter into the mystery of the preferential option for the poor, and to encounter the poor and experience what they have to offer. Most participants come prepared for what they will do for Camden, but they’re typically unprepared for what Camden will do for them. 

Border Links: Location TBD (March 4-11, 2023)
Learn about the injustices taking place at the border of our nation and discover the root causes of migration.

Franciscan Mission Service: Washington D.C. (March 4-11, 2023)
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.

Immersion Experience: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (May 14-21, 2023)
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. 

Bethlehem Farm: Alderson, W. Va. (May 14-21, 2023)
Bethlehem Farm, is more than a “work camp” for volunteers. They invite volunteers to be a part of their mission and home. They build community with each other by working, praying, laughing, and loving together. They live simply to appreciate the gifts that God has given them. They pray together to grow closer to God and to one another. They serve the local people, serve each other, and open themselves to be served by others. By living out the Gospel cornerstones of prayer, simplicity, service and community each day of their lives, they offer volunteers not just the opportunity for service, but the opportunity to experience another way of life.


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
Alternative Breaks | Spring 2020
Questions about Alternative Breaks
Please contact Stephanie Gonzalez via email for more information.