Help Is On The Way

A day at the beach, palm trees, warm weather, and crazy parties are all a part of the traditional spring break routine, but a group of students from Howard University say goodbye to old traditions and hello to new ideas.

This group of students are part of the Alternative Spring Break delegation that will be visiting one of the hardest hit regions in the Gulf Coast-New Orleans, LA in order to help rebuild the city. This project is headed by the Office of the Dean of the Chapel and is partially sponsored by the Lily Grant Foundation.

Over 200 eager students are signed up for the University’s annual Alternative Spring Break vacation but, because of an overwhelming response by students and lack of sponsorship, some were turned away.

“[200] is nearly four times the number of students we’ve had interested in the alternative spring break week in the past,” said Alexis Logan, a Lily Grant Fellow and the student coordinator of the trip. “We even have a waiting list because everyone expressed a genuine interest in helping to rebuild.” The ASB committee lacks the funds to support every student who applied, but they are looking for sponsors.

“We concluded our application process in early February. Students were asked to write an essay and from that we chose those who had a genuine concern and heart to help,” Logan said. “We are looking for sponsors so that we can send more students,” she noted.

“No matter who you are, you were affected,” said LaQueenia Brown, an ASB recruit. “Katrina transcends everything, age, race, social status- America needs us,” she declared. “We elect our government and when they don’t step up we should, and that’s what ASB is for-we are doing what we are able to do.”

March 10th marks the day when 30 graduate and about 170 undergraduate students from HU will travel to New Orleans to help rebuild communities and inspire the city’s youth.

“We’ll be partnering with Habitat for Humanity gutting and cleaning houses, and then we’ll paint and restructure schools and build relationships and empower students.” Logan explained. “Finally,” she expressed, “We will be trained by voices of Katrina on how to interview and better care for those who were affected.”

Logan noted that the Alternative Spring Break is designed to serve underserved communities but to also inspire students towards a life purpose of serving others through ethical and spiritual discernment.

“We have a non-traditional mission because we focus on spiritual discernment and community service,” Logan said. “When you think of spring break you think of vacations and wild parties but this isn’t what ASB is about.”

“I’m happy to see that people actually care enough to take time out of their break to help others. They could definitely be in Miami or Jamaica, but they’re helping people who feel forgotten.” Ashley Spears, a New Orleans native and Howard University student said. “It shows the generosity and concern that the chapel has always shown to [Howard] students, especially those in need. Their help won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.”

“I want to help rebuild-I want to know I’ve helped in some way,” LaQueenia Brown emphasized. “I can’t send money and I can’t feed everyone either but even if the 200 of us say that ‘I’m only one person’ we still have 200 people helping out.”

The ASB will last seven days, the full length of Howard’s recess. Students will travel by airplane or trains and will camp out in tents with sleeping bags for the entire week. That’s powerful, said Esther Baker a victim of hurricane Katrina who now resides in North Carolina, “Nothing but love makes you do that.”

To help sponsor this cause please email Alexis Logan at asbnola2006@yahoo.com