For Spring Break this year, our sister Karly Lent did not go on vacation to relax, but instead she went on a service trip through The University of Iowa in Atlanta, Georgia. Karly is an inspiration to all for her selflessness in helping others and sets a great example for Chi Omegas everywhere. Karly writes all about her unique Spring Break experience below.
For my spring break, I went to Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta isn't the first thing that pops into most people's minds when they think of a spring break location, but that's where I ended up! I went there with 16 other students from The University of Iowa for an alternative spring break trip. Instead of going on vacation with friends, it is a chance to give back to the community. I applied for the program first semester and was lucky enough to be selected to participate.
Before the week of spring break, we had a class where we met once a week to discuss different leadership qualities and to plan the trip. The fun started on the 14 hour car ride where I bonded with the other participants and started to make relationships. While we were in Atlanta, our focus was public health, so we did service projects that fit in that category.
The places we volunteered at were Jerusalem House, Atlanta’s oldest and largest provider of permanent housing for Atlanta’s low-income and homeless individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. At this site, we did a lot of outdoor work such as landscaping, gardening and cleaning windows. The next place we had a chance to work with was MedShare. To be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy it that much there compared to the other places we volunteered at, but it turned out to be one of my favorite places. MedShare is a national non-profit organization that recovers surplus medical supplies and equipment from U.S. hospitals and manufacturers and redistributes them to needy hospitals in developing countries. What blew my mind is that everything in their warehouse would have ended up in a landfill if MedShare hadn’t gathered it all. There, we packaged supplies to be shipped to different countries in need. The third place we volunteered at was the Atlanta Community Food Bank. In high school, I loved doing the Student Hunger Drive, so this was right up my alley. We sorted through the donated food to check expiration dates and make sure things hadn’t been contaminated, and then placed them in the proper bins. Over a span of two days, we sorted through over 18,000 pounds of food which served over 12,000 meals to people in need.
As fun as volunteering is, we were also able to be tourists for a day. The first full day in Atlanta was spent visiting museums and touring the city. We toured CNN studios, the Civil and Human Rights Museum, World of Coca-Cola and the Martin Luther King Jr. sites. All of these places were so fun, eye opening and I would totally recommend them to anyone planning on going to Atlanta. Later on in the trip, we also had a chance to visit the CDC Museum which is the Center for Disease Control. It was such an informative tour and experience.
I HIGHLY recommend applying for Alternative Spring Break at The University of Iowa if you ever get a chance. It was a life changing experience that I'll look back on for the rest of my time here at Iowa as well as the rest of my life. I made 16 new friends that I absolutely love and am SO blessed to have met.