Hood College’s Alternative Spring Break program took students and community members on civic engagement trips locally and in Florida.

The local “Know Your Neighbors” program included 15 Hood members who participated in service trips to the Frederick County 4H Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center in Thurmont; Earl’s Place Shelter in Baltimore; and 2nd Street and Hope Community Meal Center, the Sustainable Garden, and the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs in Frederick.

The Florida program saw seven students volunteer with Habitat Humanity in Key West. They helped rebuild a house from the bottom up that had been destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

Jennifer Slick ’21 enjoyed the “Know Your Neighbors” program because it helped her connect with people around campus who had common interests with her, but whom she would not have otherwise met.

“As a commuter, this experience gave me an opportunity to get to know individuals from campus and to learn about organizations and groups in the Frederick area,” she said. “I participated at the 4H Therapeutic Riding Center. I enjoyed interacting with the animals on the farm and learning about an amazing center that I had no idea existed. The riding center does amazing work as a therapeutic tool for individuals.”

Kirsten Roy ’16, who now works in Hood’s accounting office, participated at the Religious Coalition, helping build gardens with the College’s Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies.

“I really enjoyed participating in the garden builds at the Religious Coalition through Hood’s ASB program,” she said. “From my two days there, I learned a lot about the Religious Coalition, gardening, the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies and how to appropriately use power tools, which is something I thoroughly appreciated.

“ASB is a fantastic program that connects Hood College with local communities, such as Frederick, and strengthens the Hood community by bringing people together who otherwise would never have met.”

Laila Nielson ’18 went to Key West in Florida because she wanted to help people affected by Hurricane Irma, and it was an opportunity to travel somewhere new. She learned about Habitat for Humanity and the manual labor it takes to build a house.

“Ellie (the homeowner) was with us the entire time helping us out, and I think getting to know her personally and hearing her story made our work especially meaningful to us,” said Nielson. “We got to see first hand and hear about all the destruction caused by the hurricane and how it affected their communities, and it felt good seeing the difference we were making. The construction work also required a lot of teamwork and as the hours and days went by, our teamwork got better, and we really had a lot of fun with it.”

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