Alternative Spring Break - Columbiana County StylePosted Apr. 6, 2010
Fences were repaired. Trash picked up. Worn carpet came up and new went down. Alternative Spring Break – Columbiana County style – was a lot like the other Alternative Spring Break trips. Lives were touched, communities were changed and friends were made. The difference is Kent State’s constant presence in this distressed county through not one, but two Regional Campuses.
For Sophomore Amanda Sweigard, who attends the Salem Campus, the experience meant just a little bit more. “I live here, and I know personally that there is a lot of work to do,” she said. “So, I decided to volunteer my spring break.”
Sweigard, along with her team of five, spent the week at Hellbender Bluff, 740 acres of a strip mined that is being reclaimed and turned into a new park. “We’re cleaning out the trash -- picking up rusting cars, tires and getting ready for the park to open.”
Park Commissioner Mike West explained that the park was created through grants and is maintained through volunteers. “We really appreciate the help,” he said. “This is going to help our community; our residents will have a nice park to come to.” In addition to helping reclaim the vast tract of land, another group of students helped the Columbiana Parks Department by mending fences and cutting down overgrown weeds on The Greenway Bike Trail.
Two groups worked with the City of East Liverpool on making the city safer and friendlier. Program Coordinator Rachael Esterly, who is an instructional technology coordinator at both campuses, told the group that the mayor’s office received calls from area residents who were excited and pleased by the students work.
“He said his office got a lot of calls and that residents didn’t want the students to stop,” she said.
Alternative Spring Break also helped the local Way Station, which has sites in Columbiana and East Liverpool. This is faith-based, private non-profit organization is dedicated to assisting area families and individuals who have been affected by addiction, poverty and abuse. Students focused on cleaning and repairing the organizations’ buildings. They took up worn carpet, laid down new, hooked up computers and painted.
Freshman Lauren Woolum, when interviewed by local reporters said by the afternoon of day two she was ready to call it quits. Woolum spent Monday and Tuesday painting The Way Station in East Liverpool.
"By about 2 o'clock yesterday I was like 'I don't want to come back. I'm so tired.' But, I got back and I'm pumped so it's been good," Woolum told the reporter. She also explained her frustration with friends taking a traditional break. "I know a bunch of people are going to Florida, just going home to sleep a lot and get a break from homework," she said. "So it's a little hard to hear all that and say, 'I'm going to work for five days.' But, I'm glad to be here."
This is the first time Alternative Spring Break has come to Columbiana County. During the week the students slept on the floor at the Salem Campus, showered in the old locker rooms and ate simple meals in the lobby. Students also had an opportunity to visit area attractions including the Homer Laughlin China Company and the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame. In the evening, students participated in programs presented by Kent State faculty and staff, which focused on the challenges Appalachian counties face.