” To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~ Douglas Adams

The point of an Alternative Spring Break trip is to provide an opportunity for students to give back through service, but what does service really mean? That is a question that I hope the ten wonderful students I had the pleasure of working with, learned this past week.

Working with Samaritan’s Purse has helped open my eyes to the endless work that needs to be done to help an area of the country recovering from a natural disaster. Hurricane Michael hit the Panama City area in October and still, there are countless neighborhoods, homes, and family’s that are in need of assistance cleaning up the debris left in the wake of the hurricane. To Samaritan’s Purse, service transcended hauling trees out of a back yard or mudding out a home. It is an act of compassion and community. Each home we visited was a new opportunity to hear a story. Each individual had a life before the disaster, and it was our job to learn and celebrate that life. From taxidermists, to firefighters, to a professional musician, each unique story created lasting bonds with the individuals we served.  This was my take away from the experience:  it’s not about the physical work that we do, but the relationships that ensue.

This experience has been one of the most fulfilling of my life.  The connections made with every individual I served and served with have furthered me in my life as an individual and as a professional working at Springfield College.

As I reflect on this week’s experiences in Panama City Beach Florida, I must admit that I had absolutely no idea what I signed up for. However, once we started working and helping the families who were affected by Hurricane Michael just a little over five months ago, it became more to us than just “work”. We formed genuine bonds with the families that we worked with by taking the time to actually sit and talk with them and listen to their stories. One aspect of the trip that I loved was the bible that we left with each family that was signed by each member of our group. Although our paths may never cross again, they will always have the memory of us and I personally can recall the names of them all. I left Panama City Beach Florida with a newfound understanding of what really matters when it comes to serving others.

Thank you to Clint Gosselin for this update!

To the “A-Team” …. you all are amazing and I am proud to have been given the opportunity to be your advisor!! -Cheri, Staff Advisor on the trip

Thank you to all the students who gave up their Spring Break to give back not only to the Residents of Panama City Beach but also to each other.  It was an absolute honor to work with you all. – Clint, Staff Advisor on the trip

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