Alternative Spring Break 2022
Alternative Spring Break is back! Five students had in-person experiences in Ardmore with different community organizations, and another four students participated in virtual opportunities, including a two hour conversation with folks from GMHC, an organization that fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift all those affected.
In March of 2020, we were stopped in our tracks during our first Marilou Allen Office of Service & Community Collaboration Alternative Spring Break, in which a group of students volunteered to spend their week off with Southeast by Southeast, a community space for immigrant and refugee families in South Philadelphia. COVID was upon us, and we were forced to end the experience early and were very unsure when we would be back up and running.
Two years later, in March 2022, we were ecstatic to be back to work, this time with five students participating in an in-person experience in Ardmore with different community organizations, and another four students participating in virtual opportunities including a two hour conversation with folks from GMHC, an organization that fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift all those affected.
A special thank you to those who contributed generously to the Randy Milden Memorial Fund, which funded this experience. Milden served as dean of students at Haverford for 10 years. She was dedicated to supporting, empowering, and providing inclusive spaces for students.
Inside the Ardmore Experience
Angel, Ivy, Joseph, Kristine, and Sherry spent the week serving a different community organization each day, Tuesday through Friday. Let’s take a look at each day!
Bethel AME Community Garden
Bethel Academy/Bethel AME Church of Ardmore is the home of various community outreach activities and programs providing critical community support to local residents. These activities/projects include: Bethel Academy, free after school program, Bethel Community Garden/Ardmore Victory Garden program, COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach and Clinics and many, many others.
“Bethel is very welcoming, and has been part of the street for a long time. The fact that Haverford graduate, Frances, is able to work here is a big progress of spreading resources of the college to the local community.”
Neighbors Helping Neighbors on the Mainline
Neighbors Helping Neighbors on the Main Line (NHN) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We provide support to families in need in Lower Merion Township and the greater Philadelphia region, through our programming in Food Security, Education Empowerment, Advocacy, and Basic Needs Assistance. NHN strives to serve as a continual source of support to the most vulnerable residents in our region, especially children and seniors. NHN is made up of local volunteers, who are dedicated to creating racial equity and unity. We believe the combined efforts of neighbors will lead to the success and well-being of our entire community.
“[We were] packing necessities for people in need; checking the conditions of the donated books and toys from PucciManuli. Though it is only their second year, NHN is well organized to offer personal help to the neighbors. One of us, Ivy, even got paired up with a student that needs SAT Math tutoring.”
The Junior League Thrift Shop
The Junior League is a nonprofit educational women's volunteer organization aimed at improving communities and the social, cultural, and political fabric of civil society. There are currently 291 Junior League chapters throughout the world. The Junior League of Philadelphia Thrift Shop is the main source of fundraising for the Junior League of Philadelphia.
“The clothes we displayed were bought by a customer that afternoon! I got to know Junior League as an international non-profit organization and how they used the revenue [to fight] food [in]security. They rely on the community to donate clothings, while the community also needs them...”
Common Space of Ardmore provides a shared space where people of all ages, races, abilities, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds make connections and cross boundaries. We offer creative programming that includes classes, workshops, and discussion groups, as well as a community space to learn, meet, share, and enjoy a tasty treat. We create fair-wage jobs for community members with many talents and abilities who are seeking part-time/flexible employment and appreciate a place to belong. We partner with school and educational institutions, small businesses, and organizations to achieve our mission. Our vision is that community members know each other and value diversity with an open mind, kind heart, and thoughtful conversation.
“We prepared pots for Bethel to seed, then we packed flowers and gave them to the local restaurants with the other volunteers in the organization to ask for soup donations for a future event. Many people with Autism Spectrum help in this space, and Common Space also has close relationships with other organizations such as Bethel AME. Even during the pandemic, Common Space transformed into a store that sells local art and welcomed and helped people from the neighborhood.”
Inside the Virtual Experience
Aicha, Alex, Anna, and Samantha engaged in a curated list of virtual opportunities, including getting to know each other with video introductions, a webinar about the impact of racism on the health of the nation from the American Public Health Association, and a live orientation to GMHC, an organization that fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift all those affected. They met with Shelley Levine, Director of Training and the Volunteer Center, and Krishna Stone, Director of Community Relations, and learned about the history of the AIDS crisis and GMHC, and how they had to make changes due to COVID, and what comes next for the organization.
“I learned a lot about the history of the AIDS epidemic and the services that GMHC offers. Additionally, the webinar series was super interesting and taught me a lot about the ways in which healthcare is very impacted by racism.”
“The alternative spring break experience is really fulfilling not only my spring break, but also my life to some degree. Before this, I didn’t really get to know so many aspects of the Ardmore neighborhood other than a few restaurants. It is the first time for me to see how the NGOs can be locally based to serve the people and improve the common environment. I am really moved by how passionate and determined the NGOs are in organizing events, getting connected with people in need, and holding solid belief in a better future. Community service and volunteering work is now a down to earth concept to me rather than the abstract terms, and it makes me so enthusiastic about doing more to work for an ideal or goal that may seem over optimistic but can be achieved through hard work.”