Service and selflessness over spring break

REACH Alternative Breaks bring hope to east coast communities

REACH is an on-campus organization that strives to help various communities in need through various forms of outreach and the helping hands of CNU Captains. While the organization does prioritize helping those in need year-round in whatever ways possible, their Alternative Breaks program is what REACH is one of their most well-known initiatives. Every year during spring break, members of REACH and interested CNU students travel to various locations along the east coast to spend their time off serving others.

During every fall semester, an email is sent out to the student body outlining details about the various trips that will take place in the upcoming spring semester. Students learned where the trips were going to be, what they would be doing and how they could complete applications to go on them. In 2020, six of these trips were made available to students with three existing in rural areas and three in urban areas. The rural trips included Environmental Awareness and Restoration in Gladstone, Va., Agriculture and Sustainable Living in West Jefferson, N.C. and Food Insecurity and Disabilities in Lynchburg, Va. The urban trips included Hunger and Housing in Greenville, S.C., Youth Development in Charleston, S.C. and Housing Insecurity in Wilmington, S.C.

Students did not have to be members of REACH or actively involved with them to be eligible to join them for an Alternative Breaks trip, which made these trips widely available to all kinds of attendees from CNU.

Christy Galbraith, a junior at CNU, embarked on the Environment Awareness and Restoration trip to James River State Park in Gladstone, Va. Over the course of the week, she and her fellow volunteers helped park rangers with park upkeep and maintenance, including building a firepit and picking up debris and trash from the banks of the James River. “My favorite part was joking around and having fun with my other team members,” she said. “Everybody had a good sense of humor and made light of the work that we did. The park staff were really funny as well, so all around, it was just a good time being with those people.”

“This was my first time on a REACH trip,” Galbraith said. “Last spring break, I remember seeing a lot of Instagram posts, and people were just raving about the time that they had, and I decided that I wanted to actually do something productive next year. I’m really glad I did it, and I got to see the fruit of my labor almost every day which was a very satisfying feeling. It was an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience, and I would recommend it to anybody!”

Sarah Goldsmith, another CNU junior, went on the Housing Insecurity trip to Wilmington, N.C. to serve with Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (W.A.R.M.) and further their mission to fix housing issues in vulnerable areas of the city. As a REACH trip leader this year, she got to lead her fellow Captains as they collectively rebuilt a family’s home in a low-income area. Her trip to Wilmington this year was her third trip with REACH, following a previous trip to Wilmington her sophomore year and a trip to Greenville, S.C. her freshman year. 

“I learned so much from the people on the trip with me, and I loved getting to work alongside them everyday and then go and explore the city of Wilmington with them in the evenings. It was a very rewarding experience,” she said.

Goldsmith and the students she was with focused on making repairs to one family’s house during the entire week after their home was flooded due to past hurricanes that had swept through Wilmington. “They lacked air conditioning and heat for three years and clean water for three months before we got there. W.A.R.M. did a lot of these repairs, but they had [REACH] make repairs to the decks and stairs on the exterior of the home that were rotting away from the continual water damage.”

While the extent of REACH’s outreach was wide during their week of 2020 Alternative Breaks, their impact was certainly concentrated. Captains came together to serve others in a time that should have been a week off from continuous work and obligations. Instead, it became a week of embodying CNU’s famous mission statement: “leading lives of significance.”

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~

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