I had the pleasure of serving as half of the coordinator duo for this year’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Atlanta.
Our trip was food-justice and public-health focused. In Atlanta, we worked with Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides delicious, nutrition-packed meals to clients in the greater Atlanta metro area who do not have easy access to healthy food for a variety of reasons.
Want to know more about alternative breaks? Read on for my day-in-the-life recap:
6:30 a.m.: My alarm starts blaring. I peel myself out of bed, brush my teeth, and dress myself accordingly for the day of service. Our community partner instructed us to dress in long pants, closed-toe shoes, and no jewelry, in order to comply with the health and safety regulations.
8:00 a.m.: My co-coordinator, Ale, and I convene with our volunteers in the lobby of the extended stay hotel that we are calling home for the week. We pile into the 12-passenger van, tune the radio to the country music station, and make the drive to Open Hand.
8:30 a.m.: We arrive at Open Hand, check into the volunteer system, and meet the Director of Volunteer Services in the training room. We split into two groups: one for meal packing and one for food runs.
9:00 a.m.: I join the food-run group. Before heading out to make deliveries, we check the large freezer bags to make sure we have the meals we need. Today’s route has us making deliveries in northern Atlanta—along Buford Highway and in Doraville. I type the directions into Google Maps, and we head out.
12:00 p.m.: We arrive back at Open Hand. On our food runs, we delivered to a few senior living centers and some houses. Doing food runs gave us an opportunity to explore more of Atlanta and its unique neighborhoods. An important part of the ASB mission is to learn about the community we are spending the week in, in order to provide the most helpful and holistic service we can.
1:00 p.m.: After a lunch of green beans, mashed potatoes, and chicken, provided by our community partner, we prepare to head into the packing line. We suit up with hairnets, gloves, arm guards, and aprons to ensure our clothes stay clean and our germs stay out of the food. The rest of the day is reminiscent of the famous candy factory scene in I Love Lucy. However, instead of chocolates, we are packing meals of asparagus risotto, baked chicken, and pears.
3:00 p.m.: We reach our goal of 600 meals! After exchanging gloved high-fives, we wipe down the packing lines, sweep the floor, and tell the Open Hand staff goodbye for the day. Packing meals can get somewhat monotonous, but my group kept it fun by telling stories and singing along to the hip-hop ’90s classics blaring from the radio.
3:30 p.m.: Today’s post-service adventure is visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. We wander around the Visitor Center, MLK’s Birth Home, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. I particularly enjoyed seeing the beautiful reflecting pool, where MLK and Coretta Scott King’s tombs are preserved. My group and I loved having this opportunity to learn more about MLK, our fellow Boston University Terrier.
4:30 p.m.: After soaking in the experience, my group and I decide to have our reflection in a nearby park. Reflection is a key part of the ASB experience. We talk about our highs and lows for today, as well as our expectations and hopes for the rest of the week of service. My co-coordinator and I raise some questions and encourage our volunteers to share their thoughts.
5:15 p.m.: We pile into the van and get on the interstate to head back to our home for the week. We decide to make spaghetti for dinner and get busy boiling water, mixing sauces and preparing a quick salad.
6:30 p.m.: Once we’re all full with carbs and vegetables, one of our volunteers starts a conversation about MBTI personality types. We launch into debate about correlations between MBTI, Birth Charts, and Hogwarts houses. The conversation gets sillier as the night goes on, as we are all exhausted from the day of service and exploring. Someone breaks out a deck of cards, and the fun continues.
10:00 p.m.: It’s time for us to call it a night. Everyone splits to head to bed in his or her respective rooms. I remind them to send messages in our group chat as soon as they wake up, so Ale and I know that everyone is up and preparing for service. We all say goodnight, and I set the alarm for 6:30 again before drifting off to sleep.
Paige Hill, Staff Writer
Paige Hill is a sophomore in the College of Communication studying public relations with a minor in political science. She loves working in the Community Service Center and tutoring at the Intergenerational Literacy Program in Chelsea. Ultimately, Paige hopes to combine her passions for education and communications to pursue a career in nonprofit PR.