UMS offer alternative plans for students’ Spring Break


Benjamin Wells, the United Methodist Students campus pastor, is preparing for Alternative Spring Break. This program flips the idea of the traditional spring break of relaxing on a beach, and brings students on a mission trip to help rebuild communities.

This year, UMS members are planning on driving to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to help rebuild houses destroyed in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew.

Wells said the communities effected by natural disasters take years to recover. He said people are always willing to help out at first, but after a while the desire fades away when the disaster is no longer on peoples’ minds and the help stops.

The way this project works is one organization comes and works for a week, then another group comes and picks up where they left off, and the cycle continues.

The project is a collective effort.

Last year’s effort involved Wells and Jacob Thomas, a senior history major and active UMS member. They went to Crisfield, Maryland to build a ramp to help the family of Susan Marshall.

Wells and Thomas were joined by UMS members from Potomac State in building the ramp for Marshall, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and could no longer use the stairs. The ramp was completed in four days.

“It was really cool because the first day we started off with a pile of wood and by the end of the first day we had sticks in the ground,” Thomas said. “It was really cool to see your work progress throughout the week.”

The students work on average eight hours a day for four days, with some days off to rest and relax. The hours of work can change according to the work site, Thomas said. Last year, the group was determined to finish the ramp by the end of the week.

“We worked hard,” Thomas said. “We pushed ourselves to get up earlier than everybody else, leave before everybody else and stay longer than everybody else.”

This upcoming Alternative Spring Break will mark Thomas’ fifth service trip.

“Its open to anyone who wants to put lives back together by building houses,” Wells said.

The trip costs $75 and the students will leave on Saturday, March 18, and return the following Saturday on March 25. Workers will receive on-the-job training, making no prior experience necessary. Students may register by texting Wells at 910-441-0557.

Karenann Flouhouse can be reached at [email protected]