While many college students see spring break as a chance to rest, celebrate and gear up for the push toward semester’s end, a few use the week off to make a difference in the lives of people for whom small acts of kindness can mean so much.
Such was the nature of Alec Martinez’s week off, spent with five fellow Cornell undergraduates helping to create a sensory garden for children in collaboration with Harlem Grown, a New York City nonprofit. Martinez and his friends were in the city April 3-6 as members of the Alternative Breaks (Alt Breaks) program, which promotes service-learning through direct engagement with various communities.
“The work was definitely tough, but it was incredibly satisfying,” said Martinez ’18, an urban and regional studies major from Laredo, Texas. “The great thing about Alternative Breaks is, it’s not just a ‘drive-by’ volunteer opportunity, something we can put on our résumés and we’re done. These relationships matter.”
A program of Cornell’s Public Service Center (PSC), Alt Breaks aims to heighten social awareness, enhance students’ personal growth and advocate lifelong social action. Alt Breaks’ inaugural Harlem Grown trip was one of 10 New York City projects involving more than 70 Cornell students this spring.