The University of the Incarnate Word's Office of Mission and Ministry held its Fifth Annual Alternative Spring Break from March 10-14. The effort was directed by Sr. Walter Maher, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, and organized by Dr. Chris Edelman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and Dr. Craig McCarron, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.
UIW volunteers served the San Antonio community each day during the break by painting and making minor exterior repairs to houses inhabited by individuals and families that lacked the resources to see to work themselves.
The houses were identified by Sonny Saenz, Assistant Director of the Frank Garrett Community Center (1226 NW 18th St). UIW participants included students, faculty, and staff members. Between 30 and 40 volunteers participated each day of spring break, and many volunteers served for multiple days over the course of the week. Together, they painted five houses and made a number of repairs, including replacing shutters, building steps, repairing doors, replacing trim, and repairing siding. The repairs were made possible by material donations from DeWalt Power Tools, Southwest Exteriors, and Home Depot.
Each day began at 8:15am in front of the UIW Convocation Center, where a UIW shuttle picked up students to transport them to the Garrett Center, which provided volunteers with a conference room to meet for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon reflections.
After a light breakfast (provided by the School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering and the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing) and an opening prayer led by Fr. Tom Dymowski, Chaplain of UIW, house painting began at 9:00 am. UIW Religious Studies major Jon Johnston led one team of painters and Prof. Mike Forrest of the H-E-B School of Business led the other. Dr. Craig McCarron led the carpentry team.
At 2pm each day the teams returned to the Garrett Center for lunch. Lunches were provided by the Rosenberg School of Optometry, the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and the H-E-B School of Business. Florio's Pizza (7701 Broadway) and Firehouse Subs (9961 IH 10 West) also supported the week's efforts by providing in-kind donations.
After lunch, Fr. Tom led volunteers in a guided reflection designed to help them gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of their service. The shuttle then returned volunteers back to UIW by 3pm each day.
Overall, Alternative Spring Break 2014 was extremely successful, due in large part to the gracious hospitality and logistical assistance offered by the Frank Garret Center and the willingness of UIW students, faculty, and staff to spend a part of their spring break living out the mission of the University of the Incarnate Word. The event received media coverage by The Logos and The San Antonio Express News, and was featured on local news broadcasts by KSAT 12 and KABB.
Planning for next year's Alternative Spring Break will begin in January 2015.