United Way is one of the largest volunteer organization in the United States and has been leading the way in alternative spring break options for the better part of a decade. 2017 will be no exception.
In this guide, you'll discover who United Way are, what they stand for, what opportunities you can undertake, and why you should consider volunteering over spring break.
Who Are United Way?
To quote from their website:
United Way is engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide. We are focused on creating community-based and community-led solutions that strengthen the cornerstones for a good quality of life: education, financial stability and health.
United Way has been organizing charity and volunteering opportunities for a whopping 125 years, and currently impacts 50 million lives in a positive way every year.
What is the United Way Alternative Spring Break?
Every year, United Way runs Alternative Spring Break for college students who are searching for something more than a week of partying down in Mexico. As long as you're over the age of 18, you'll be able to sign up for a project, and you can do so either on your own or with a group of friends.
Projects take place across the United States and offer an immersive week spent improving the lives of disadvantaged communities in the country. Service projects include building much-needed houses and improving the quality of shelters, as well as working to improve youth development in struggling areas and even helping create community vegetable gardens and feeding the homeless. It's not glamorous, but it is needed and you'll be helping to improve other people's lives.
How Much Does This Alternative Spring Break Cost?
United Way typically charges $275-$395 to spend a week volunteering over spring break. It's not the cheapest of experiences, but it's most likely more affordable than hitting the beach with friends for a week. Your fees will cover accommodation, transport, and some meals, so you shouldn't have to spend much more than that while you're away.
What Spring Break Projects Took Place Over 2016?
2016 was a fantastic year for United Way, as 12 communities across the United States received help from college students over spring break.
Students got to help rebuild a family's home in New Jersey that had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. play with children as they helped renovate their community gardens and playgrounds in Miami, and even helped realign tombstones from the Civil War in a New Orleans cemetery.
What Trips Are Up for Grabs in 2017?
If you want to sign up for Alternative Spring Break for 2017, here are some of the trips you could join: building houses for low income families in El Paso, Texas; creating gardens and green spaces throughout Tennessee; providing hot meals for the homeless in San Francisco; helping to protect the environment in Washington D.C.; building urban parks in New Orleans; and so much more.
You can view list of volunteer opportunities on the United Way website.
Why Should You Volunteer Over Spring Break?
There are so many advantages to volunteering over spring break.
You'll be able to help out a disadvantaged community and make a real difference to their lives. You'll get to meet new people and make friends during your week away. It opens your eyes to your privilege and alters your worldview as you meet people in worse situations than you. It helps you stay on budget by giving you something to do that won't break the bank. And finally, it provides a real boost to your resume, by showing that you decided to spend your spring break helping less fortunate people rather than partying your days away.
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.