Alternative Fall Break 2022
This past October, the Marilou Allen Office of Service & Community Collaboration offered its very first Alternative Fall Break program, in which students could spend their break volunteering at different community organizations focused on issues of ecology, environmentalism, and food justice. Five students participated, and gave their time to help our Ardmore and Philadelphia neighbors garden, package meals, plant trees, and more.
On Monday, after taking a "strengths assessment," we spent a lot of time as a group trying to figure out what our various results meant. For example, affirming that I am someone who prioritizes harmony, inclusion, and restoration influenced the way I think about group work now, and for the remainder of the Alternative Fall Break. We then packed food for Caring for Friends, and most of that time was dedicated to writing little thoughtful notes for the people receiving food. This was one of my favorite small touches of the entire week - the most meaningful experiences I've had with community service in the past have come from truly interacting with the people I'm helping, and this was a reminder of how important human connection is throughout any attempt to help people. - Owen Yaggy
Volunteering with the Haverford Arboretum, we helped lay down pine mulch at the college's Lenape land acknowledgement garden; while this is still a work in progress, the finished garden will serve to educate the Haverford community on the history of the area and the stolen land on which Haverford was built. We also learned about the work that goes into managing the arboretum (they have a spreadsheet with information on every tree, such as location, planting date, any recent blights or illnesses, and more!) and planted a flowering crabapple outside the GIAC. Finally, we helped to set up the arboretum's fall festival, an event that brings younger students from the community in to celebrate the autumn season and explore the arboretum. - Jay Whitesell
The Sheldon Lane Pollinator Garden was a physically taxing but very rewarding experience! We moved soil to lay out a new bed for native plants and helped to eliminate an invasive species called mugwort. Most importantly, we learned about the importance of native, sustainable agriculture from one of the community's most knowledgeable gardeners. I think it awakened an unknown love of gardening in all of us! - Jay Whitesell
On Thursday we learned about gardening for food production, and it was fascinating to see how in such a small area so much food could be produced for the local area - a recognition heightened by the recognition that some of the food grown at Bethel AME is sent to the Haverford community for use in the Nest food pantry. We were able to both harvest and seed several plants, and though the work of gardening can be very precise and difficult, in a week that focused on sustainability no location seemed as full-circle as the Bethel AME's garden, where we collected seeds from harvested plants to be used in future plantings. It was also a good reminder of how accessible the ability to make a positive impact is - right here in local Ardmore, a tiny piece of land can create so much good. - Owen Yaggy
We went to MANNA, a kitchen and charity serving food-insecure people in Philadelphia, with other volunteers from Ardmore's Common Space. We were boxing up hundreds of pies to support a bake sale in which every purchase provided a meal to a local family. It was really satisfying to see how efficiently all the volunteers could work when we all came together, and it was great to gain insight into a Philly-based business doing important charitable work. - Jay Whitesell
“At the Arboretum and gardens, we provided some physical help, but also learned from the organizations. We learned about the history and purpose of the Lenape reflection garden, heard about the process to start a garden on township land, and found out that basil seeds are nigh impossible to remove from the dried plant. The week was meaningful in that it helped me identify with the local community as well as the communities across the country and globe that are working to make positive change in their area.” - Jamie Joslyn Melville
The Office of Service programs two Alternative Break opportunities each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Please reach out to us with any questions, and let us know if you are interested in participating - it’s a great way to get involved!