Valparaiso University’s spring break philanthropy trips will take place during March 2022, during the first week of Spring Break, after not occurring last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To get involved, the first step is to fill out the application at volunteer.valpo.edu and make a deposit of $100 to secure a spot on the trip. The rest of the $290 fee and application is due by Dec. 1, 2021.
As of Nov. 8, none of the six service trip options were completely filled.
“My favorite part of my job is the spring service trip program. Every year we collect pre-trip data and post-trip data. We find that we have a substantial effect on students' experience, somewhere upwards of 90% end up feeling more connected to the university because of their trip experience. 100% pretty much every year say that they would go on the trip again if they could,” said Ryan Bye, Director of Student Involvement and New Student programs.
Locations are spread country-wide and serve various areas of needs.
“Generally as we think of location, we try to think where we are going that’s relevant in terms of any disasters that have happened. Some of our trips are going to central Appalachia in some of the poorest counties in the nation,” Bye said.
For spring 2022, general service trips include the Cherokee Nation Community Services in Northeast Okla., Disaster Recovery in New Orleans, La. and Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Miss.
“There’s a committee across campus that plans the trips. We have some disaster response trips specifically this year going down to the New Orleans area to respond to hurricane Ida because they’re still doing a lot of work and there’s communities that don’t have power. We will be going down there and doing whatever work is needed,” Bye said.
Additionally, there is a faith-based trip.
“There’s a faith-based trip as well, so that just has a bit more emphasis on faith as a component of service and this year they will be staying at a church in New Orleans and volunteering with that church for projects that they’re serving,” Bye said.
The philanthropy program also offers two trips funded by a donor.
“We have a variety of trips. We have two trips that are funded by a donor and so those students have to be invited to apply to that trip because it's a full scholarship so you get to go for free,” Bye said.
Hoping to gain more interest in the first-year specific service trip, those in charge are taking initiative.
“We are going to be conducting [recruitment drives] over the next couple weeks with different sessions in the residence halls, primarily freshman residence halls, talking about what the trips are and what they do,” Bye said.
The trips provide service opportunities to facilitate the university’s mission and expose students to real world situations.
“The mission of the university is to lead and serve, and to teach students how to do that and this is really hands-on experience of going and doing some meaningful service work that’ll hopefully impact someone's life. This will be my eighth year going and every year is a really impactful experience,” Bye said.