Students ‘Act on Poverty’ During Alternative Spring Break

    Alternative Spring Break volunteers helped kids in the Homes for the Homeless after-school program write haikus and create self-portraits which will appear in the Pace Press and Paw Print.

The 15 students who participated in Alternative Spring Break: Act on Poverty in NYC got a three-dimensional view of poverty as it currently plays out in New York City. Students from both the Pleasantville and New York City campuses spent their spring break seeing first-hand the services and activist organizations dedicated to ameliorating and solving issues related to poverty, especially homelessness, and got engaged in solutions.

Students volunteered at Room to Grow, which provides parents raising babies in poverty with one-on-one parenting support and essential baby items throughout their children’s critical first three years of life. Alternative Spring Break participants helped sort donated inventory. Students also visited the Harlem opportunity center of Ready, Willing and Able, a holistic, residential, work and job skills training program which helps homeless individuals in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. They listened to speakers from the National Coalition from the Homeless, participated in Habitat for Humanity’s housing simulation, and led students in a creative writing/arts and crafts activity and hosted a pizza party at Homes for the Homeless’ Prospect Family Inn family homeless shelter. The haikus and self-portraits produced by the Prospect Family Inn students will be featured in the Pace Press and/or the Paw Print, copies of which will be given to the participating students.

These experiences were contextualized by educational programs, such as a film and discussion about how poverty works in America, a lesson and discussion about the notion of a living wage, a presentation by a policy analyst at NYC’s Coalition for the Homeless, and through a letter to a representative writing activity.

  Pace students sorted donated inventory at Room to Grow, which provides parents raising babies in poverty with one-on-one parenting support and essential baby items.  

In response to an anonymous survey distributed after the program one student wrote, “…this year was extremely educational on many different levels…it seriously has got me considering different career paths now in the social work field.”

Another responded, “During the trip, I was with another student and we passed by a homeless man. I donated five dollars that I had in his cup. I also was able to give away one of the sandwiches in Grand Central to a gentleman who looked like he needed something to eat. It’s the little things that add up!”

Alternative Spring Break was organized and supervised by Dan Botting, Assistant Director, and Jessica Anderson, Program Coordinator, of the Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR) at Dyson College of Arts and Sciences. It was funded by CCAR and Student Affairs.