Seven students had the opportunity to go on the InterCity Impact volunteer trip to Chicago last Friday, April 25 and returned home Sunday, April 27.
InterCity Impact is sponsored by the Student Involvement and Employment Office and was coordinated by University Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Alanna LeClair.
Volunteering took place at a Chicago shelter for youth called The Harbour. The shelter houses mostly teens who would otherwise be homeless. Many of these teens have run away from home or been kicked out by their parents.
The students spent most of the weekend gardening to help The Harbour prepare for spring and summer.
“We were planting strawberries and blueberries as well as a veggie garden and a butterfly garden,” LeClair said.
Amanda Thielen, the SIEO coordinator at UWSP, also played a role in organizing the event.
“Sometimes students have never left their small town so it gives them the opportunity to see what it is like in a different city. Some other students have never volunteered so it gives them the opportunity to do that,” Thielen said.
Students who applied for the trip were required to answer a few essay questions to help members of SIEO select who would be going. However, each trip allows as many students as possible to go.
“This trip we were staying at a hostel so we had to stop at seven. The last one we stayed in a church so we took 13 other students,” LeClair said.
Students also spent some time exploring and enjoying Chicago when they were not working.
LeClair put a large emphasis on the benefit of participating in programs such as InterCity Impact.
“Trips like this really open people’s world views. Students talk about how even this trip really broadened their focus. In college, it is easy to be really focused on ourselves and deadlines and work and school as well as everything else that needs to happen. Students benefit from seeing a bigger picture and realizing that there is more to the world than themselves,” LeClair said.
InterCity Impact is currently looking at an international trip over the 2014-2015 winter break, with both Costa Rica and Jamaica are being considered. More information will soon be available on SIEO’s website in the volunteer section.