Visiting Students will Roll Up Their Sleeves, Help Local Residents

June 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm

The University of South Carolina Upstate will soon host a pair of conferences that will help visiting college students build citizenship qualities and give local residents renewed hope of living their lives with independence and dignity.

The Spartanburg Alternative Break Citizenship Schools (ABCs) event, one of several being held across the country by the nonprofit Break Away organization, is titled “Reframing Disability: Communities of Independence and Self-Determination.” The three-day project, to be held June 18-23 in partnership with USC Upstate, gives the visiting students the opportunity to learn to help solve issues within the community, according to Heather Rossi, USC Upstate Volunteer Services coordinator.

“Alternative Breaks provide students the opportunity to serve outside of their local community and to learn about issues such as the environment, education, immigration, poverty, food insecurity and other unmet human needs,” Rossi said. “In particular, students attend the Alternative Break Citizenship schools in order to gain the knowledge, skills and connections needed to start to facilitate quality alternative-break programs at their universities.”

During their stay in the Upstate, the 60 students from colleges and universities across the U.S. will participate in roofing, painting, remodeling, and ramp-construction projects that will help local residents remain in their homes and live safely, with dignity and independence.

“This week will mean a lot for our Spartanburg community,” Rossi said. “The students will serve with Christmas in Action Spartanburg and work to fulfill their mission of providing assistance to low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners. This experience provides students with experiential training sessions that include direct service work with workshops aimed at expanding the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate Alternative Break programs.”

While not on the job, the students will be housed in Magnolia House on the USC Upstate campus, Rossi said.

In conjunction with the ABCs event, USC Upstate will also host a three-day Staff Development Track to train and provide networking opportunities for staff and graduate-assistant advisors of Alternative Breaks programs. The Staff Development Track will be held June 21-23. Rossi said 30 attendees are expected for the training track.