CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A group of students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and other volunteers reached out to the homeless and at-risk persons in St. Louis, Mo., during the University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) held March 14-22 hosted by the Student Volunteer Connection (SVC).
The Alternative Spring Break week-long program provides opportunities for undergraduate college students to engage and immerse in direct “hands-on” service and experiential learning that are outside of their everyday comforts of life.
The group worked with Mission: St. Louis and The Bridge, two non-profit organizations. The students spent the week cleaning up alleys, doing yard work, and painting homes of the elderly. They also took part in “The Walk,” an experience hosted by The Bridge that allowed the students to see first-hand of what it is like to travel from place to place to receive basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.
“I feel that (the homeless) have left an impression on me,” said Alex Puentes, ASB Coordinator. “They showed me that they are really like anyone else and have now helped me understand the population of people who struggle with homelessness and poverty and how to better serve them.”
The 10 University students in attendance were Max Alejandro, Sascha Borjas, Kathy Choe, Gabriel Diaz, Jeremy Garza, Marina Marroquin, Sydney Moreno, Lili Perez, Aliyah Pettyjohn, and Alex Puentes.
The Mission: St. Louis exists to empower people to transform their lives, families, and neighborhoods in their community. The organization hosts programs in area schools, provides senior services, and assists at-risk men through job and leadership training. Through their partnership with a local homeless shelter called The Bridge, students were immersed in the lifestyle of a homeless person.
“I truly believe we had as much of a positive impact on the people of St. Louis as they had on us,” said Samantha De Melim, Coordinator of Student Activities. “It’s important to remember that individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness are not invisible. Everyone has a story to tell if you take the time to listen.”