Alternative Summer Break 2012

June 24th - 28th

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Why Tuscaloosa, AL?

In April of 2011 a tornado judged to be almost a mile wide struck the community of Tuscaloosa, AL. The twister flattened homes and demolished buildings, killing 43 people and injuring over 1000. Immediately, concern for the safety and wellbeing of a community only 8 hours from Gainesville became a priority for many students, staff, and faculty. In that spirit this trip to Tuscaloosa was planned to not only provide much needed manpower to help a community rebuild, but also to give the students of Santa Fe College an opportunity to experience true natural disaster devastation and challenge their ideas of societal responsibility.

What we did there?

Two advisors and eight students volunteered on this 5-day assignment. During those 5 days, the group has accomplished meaningful service to the community. On June 25th, the group volunteered with SOMA and removed debris from the lots of homes who had been demolished. The homeowners stopped by to thank us. On June 26th, we took the money that Student Government had previously fundraised and bought gift cards to the local grocery store for local families whose resources had been cut off because of the tornado. That day we found a family who was cleaning out their own yard and assisted, cutting the work down from a few days to a few hours. On June 27th, 6 people went to a supply distribution center to help organize important donations. Four Santa Fe College ambassadors were sent out by Visit Tuscaloosa to assess the damage at people's homes, an important service necessary to determine the most critical needs of the residents.

From the Participants...

"I would like to thank Santa Fe College Office of Civic Engagement and Service, Student Life, Student Government and all those who supporterd our fundraising efforts and helped plan our Alternative Break trip to Tuscaloosa, AL!

All of the volunteering opportunities that were available to us in Tuscaloosa enabled us to have a well-rounded, hands on experience of what is needed after a natural disaster has struck. This trip offered us the education and opportunity to help our neighbors in need, to put into perspective our responsibilities to our society as well as mature as individuals. This experience has personally left me with an incredibly rewarding feeling, knowing that I was part of a group of hard working, caring individuals who through our combined volunteering efforts contributed 140 hours to make a positive impact on the community of Tuscaloosa, AL and its residents. "
--Michelle Houdek

"We are all so blessed to have what we have. Entire homes are ripped to shreds. A brick elementary school is demolished. Worked hard all day to hopefully give some people in tuscaloosa some piece of mind. On our way to the UA pool to cool off. Feels like 106 according to reports."
--Julie Garrett

"We got really close as a group. In just a couple of days we bonded and we were like old friends. People were so welcoming. When a community really n eeds it, they'll take help and they're happy to have help. To see people smile and to greet you, and to be so grateful to have you. That was really awesome. That's a feeling like no other, because you feel like you are making a difference."
--Mallory Carll