Photos courtesy of Project Serve
This year, Project Serve is offering volunteer opportunities in 12 diverse locations for students hoping to spend their spring break in the service of others. Members of the Pepperdine community will travel far and wide to “use their talents and develop perspectives needed to relieve injustice, oppression and poverty within their local communities,” according to the Pepperdine Volunteer Center website.
Organizations participating include Boys and Girls Club Apache Nation, Eye on the Rainforest, Friends of Refugees, Monteverde Institute, Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans, Serve 901, Shiloh NYC, Story International, Surfing the Nations, The Painted Turtle, Union Gospel Mission and L’Arche.
“You learn about a population you maybe didn’t know about and you learn ways that you can help them or ways that you think you’re helping them, but you’re actually hurting them,” Project Serve Student Director Brooke Gautreau said. “Our goal is really to get people excited and interested in service, especially with the population they’re working with.”
Gautreau said participating in Project Serve helped her get out of the “bubble” of Malibu and gain a new perspective on the world.
“I think it really aligns with Pepperdine’s mission,” Gautreau said. “You can grow in your faith, you can grow in your service and in your education.”
Those still interested in Project Serve can apply for five trips that are open on a rolling basis, including Boys and Girls Club, Serve 901, Rebuilding Hope, UGM, and Friends of Refugees, according to Gautreau. On the application, students are asked to rank the trips they are most interested in attending. All who apply are accepted to the program and Project Serve tries to match students with their top choice.
The PVC selects organizations based on whether their morals and mission align with Pepperdine’s values. Serve 901 and Rebuilding Hope are two new additions to the 2019 program. Serve 901 is located in Tennessee and involves working with healthcare and nonprofits throughout the city. Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans originally helped rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina and now partners with Magnolia Community Services to assist those with disabilities.
Students will discover which organization they match with on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Participants are required to attend three group meetings before winter break, three before spring break and three after returning from the trip.
Costs vary depending on the specific volunteer location. Group leaders arrange fundraising workshops and other opportunities throughout the year. Gautreau suggested talking to a professor or members of one’s church about donating funds to cover the cost of the trip.
“I think it’s a good option for people to spend their spring break in a meaningful way,” junior Jesse Pak said. “I personally am not participating in it, but I think it’s a good option for people to have.”
Freshman Fatima Santamaria, an applicant to the program, said she has engaged in community service projects since kindergarten and learned about Project Serve from her RA.
“I feel like Project Serve, besides being an opportunity to go out in the world and serve people, also gives you an opportunity to be in community with the school,” Santamaria said.
Those interested in Project Serve can apply on their website.