Representing Upper Iowa University in Nasville, Tenn., during their recent Alternative Spring Break were (front, left) advisor Stephen Arneson, director of major gifts, Elizabeth Nation, and advisors Amanda Passmore and Kayla Ludwigson; (back, left) Lucas Braun, Joanne Balk, Sarah Gonner, Amy Doeppke, Abby Ungerer, Kaylee Schwake, Jacob Baumhover and Jill Zeien.
FAYETTE, Iowa (April 3, 2014) – Nine Upper Iowa University students spent their spring break away from the sand and surf that often typifies that week-long vacation for most college students. Instead, they gave their week away from their textbooks to serving others during Upper Iowa's annual Alternative Spring Break trip to Nashville, Tenn. There, the group volunteered with Habitat For Humanity's Habitat ReStore, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Nashville Zoo.
"Before the trip, we really didn't know each other," said Lucas Braun, a sophomore from Jesup, Iowa. "We really bonded as a team and worked hard every place we served. I think if you motivate yourself to serve others at this level, you're hooked. Giving back is addicting. It helps you grow as a person. I know all of us were changed by this trip, and we've grown because of the experience."
Braun said his favorite part of the trip was working at the zoo. "We worked well together throughout the entire trip, but at the zoo, we really buckled down and made an impact by cleaning the animal habitats."
Habitat's ReStore sells used and new home and office furnishings and building supplies at a fraction of retail prices. While there, the UIU group helped organize the store and sorted paint. They also spent two days at the food bank where they worked with college students from James Madison University of Harrisburg, Va. The first day they packed over 10,000 pounds of food for families, and the UIU group packed 7,000 pounds the second day working by themselves. In all, they served over 15,000 Nashville area families. At the conclusion of the trip, Upper Iowa decided to donate 33 pounds of snacks and food they had purchased for themselves prior to the trip.
"For me, that was such a touching moment to witness," said Amanda Passmore, graduate assistant for Student Activities and trip advisor. "We didn't ask them to donate their food, but they all agreed that it was the right thing to do. The food bank then used those items as part of the after-school snack packs they provide for children who need something to tide them over until their parents get home from work to make supper."
Sarah Gonner, a junior from Manchester, Iowa, said her favorite part of the trip was working at the food bank. "We helped so many people in those two days alone. The feeling that creates is indescribable. We had an impact on the lives of over 15,000 families! It is amazing when you really think about it."
UIU students also serving in Nashville during Alternative Spring Break include Joanne Balk, a junior from West Union, Iowa; Amy Doeppke, a senior from Elkader, Iowa; Elizabeth Nation, a freshman from Tripoli, Iowa; Abby Ungerer, a sophomore from West Union, Iowa; Jill Zeien, a sophomore from New Hampton, Iowa; Jacob Baumhover, a sophomore from New Vienna, Iowa; and Kaylee Schwake, a junior from Sumner, Iowa.
For more photos from the trip, check out Upper Iowa University's Flickr page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upperiowauniversity/.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 6,200 students – nationally and internationally – at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.
Monica Bayer Heaton
Associate Vice President for Communication and Marketing