GLASGOW, Va. (WDBJ7) A Roanoke-based program called Volunteers for Change arranges for college students to spend their spring break to do something besides hang out at the beach.
They have a range of service programs, including the Cultural Immersion Experience, where students move into a community to almost become a part of it as they help out.
One such group – from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts – is spending this week in Glasgow because sometimes you just need a little help. Maybe the windows, the spring cleaning has just become too much. That’s when having someone step in makes all the difference.
“They’re immersed in the community," says Valerie Falconieri of Volunteers for Change. "They learn about the culture, and they help out with different community projects, such as painting the community center, sometimes it’s tutoring children or helping with elderly citizens.”
In the community center, that painting is well underway.
“It’s not a vacation, but it’s a brand new place," says Maggie O’Hagan, a first year student at Holy Cross. "I’ve got to interact with all these people that I’ve never – I’ve never met people like the people of Glasgow.”
According to sophomore Mike Peplowski, “It’s been incredible. The people have been so welcoming. They made us feel like family. First night, I felt really nervous about coming here, they welcomed us with open arms right away.”
“And it really helps the towns out, having a group of anywhere between ten and thirty students for a week just knocking out these projects that might require a lot more physical labor, for example,” Falconieri says. “I do really think that these alternative break experiences help students see a different perspective and be exposed to a different community that they might not be used to.”
“I have zero regrets," O’Hagan says, smiling. "I will be doing this again next year.”