Alternative Breaks (Round #2)

The Alternative Break Program here at CMU has not only impacted my time during my undergrad, but has impacted the way I serve others and the communities around me.IMG_5439

I am very fortunate to have been able to go on multiple Alternative Breaks during my past three years, however, the real game changer for me was being able to lead the Survivors of Aggression trip to Greenville, SC.

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Being a part of an organization that educates people on the many social justice issues this world has, and how to help, has impacted me in unspeakable ways. It has sparked conversations about how to create change, has allowed me to broaden my perspectives even more, and led to me living a more minimal and plant-based lifestyle. As of December 2017, I have been vegan and it has honestly changed my life for the better. I also compost with my roommates (shout-out to Nicole Lazzara for her worms), recycle, and no longer use single-use containers, bags, food wrap, and straws. I have reduced my carbon footprint and waste tremendously and I owe that all to the AB program

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OWLS

As previously mentioned in another post, I am an advocate for marginalized groups and those who face adversity. I am an ally to people and an advocate for social change. While I could say that I have always been this way, that would be a lie. I believe I have always, in some form, been aware of many injustices people face, however, I never really found my voice to let others know about these issues. I educated myself, and still do, on various social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, racism, mass incarceration, and many more, however, one that I found myself consistently drawn IMG_5957back to is women’s rights.

After my service trip to Greenville, SC serving the women and children of SAFE Harbor Women’s Aid Shelter, I was persuaded to join the Organization of Women Leaders (OWLS). One of my lovely participants, Emily Jones, sold me on joining during the trip, so as a woman of my word, I did.

I can honestly say that this organization has fueled my advocacy to a whole other level. I got to experience the second annual Women’s March in Lansing, Michigan with a bunch of other kick-ass women. I am a firm believer in the statement “empowered women empower women”, and I hold true to that. Joining this organization has not only taught me how all social injustices are intertwined with one another in some form, but they taught me how to use my voice and to not be shy about it.

Advocacy is so important. Creating change through actions, not just awareness, is crucial to a better society. This world has so much corruption and cruelty, but every voice matters. Use yours for good, for change, and for those who cannot.

Service Reflection

Since I was a little girl I have always been involved in community service. My mother has a servant’s heart and showed me what it meant to give time and help to others. This past school year I have served in more ways than I can count, and I owe that not only to my mother, my passion, or my school, but to the Alternative Breaks Program.

The AB program has been a part of almost every single semester of mine here at CMU, and I am very fortunate for all the opportunities it has given me. This past December I led an AB to Greenville, South Carolina to serve for a week in a Women’s Aid Shelter. I would need much more room to even begin to explain my experiences as a site leader, a volunteer, and an advocate for these women and children. My passion for Domestic Violence Awareness runs through my veins and deep down to my very core, and this service trip fueled that passion in ways I didn’t know possible.

IMG_5508What:
Twelve women. Five days of service. Two shelters. One resale store. Walls painted. Holiday gifts organized & wrapped. Leaves raked. Donations sorted. Unconditional love spread.

So what:
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Now what:
Use your voice. Do not let moments of injustice get swept under the rug. Validate people’s experiences. Listen to learn. Become educated on your local and national resources. Be a resource. Become aware, BUT also use your awareness to act. Being aware goes hand-in-hand with being an activist. If you are aware but do not speak up, you are no better off than those who are unaware. Spread awareness. Instill activism in those around you. Bring justice to social issues.
#SoNowWhat #CmichAB #SurvivorsOfAggression

Alternative Breaks

As I have previously mentioned, I have IMG_8644.jpgbeen involved with the CMU Alternative Breaks program for over a year now, and I could not be more happy with my decision to be apart of such an amazing program. I went to Immokalee, Florida last summer to volunteer in an elementary school, and this past spring break I went to Omaha, Nebraska to serve at YES, better known as Youth Emergency Services, as well as Completely Kids. Both of these trips allowed me to embrace one of my biggest passions— working with at risk youth in poverty stricken areas.IMG_2447.jpg

After both of these alternative breaks, I finally decided it was time for me to jump from being a participant to being a site leader. After recently finding out that I would be a site leader within this program I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pure joy and IMG_8705.jpgreassurance. Getting this position reassured me that my passions and eagerness to volunteer and serve communities are what really makes me most happy and most intune with myself. Service and giving back to other communities has always given me a warm feeling, knowing I really can help and use my time in a wise and great way. It isn’t always easy for people to find the time to give back, but even if you start by taking a couple minutes out of your day, it r
eally does make a difference. This program has helped me bloom into a person I am proud of and a person who truly does care for the greater good of others.

I cannot wait to see where this opportunity takes me in the fall as well as what break I will be site leading, so stay tuned!

 

A Service Filled Life

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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Those who know me well know that my mom is my everything and more. Gina Bastian is more than just a mother of four children, a dedicated worker, and a kind soul that touches the lives of many. No, Gina Bastian is the person who led me to my life of serving others. From a very young age she taught me to be kind, give back, and stay humble. While over the course of my lifetime this is a struggle to always do, I’d like to think that I am doing a pretty good job. But serving others is not about self satisfaction, it is about simply putting others’ needs before your own without expecting anything in return.

I have been involved with the CMU Alternative Breaks program for over a year now, and I can honestly say it has changed my life. This past spring break in March of 20IMG_2447.jpg17 I went with eleven other CMU students to Omaha, Nebraska to serve their community in multiple ways. During our week long trip we volunteered at YES, better known as Youth Emergency Services, as well as Completely Kids. Both of these program centers allowed me to interact with direct and indirect service, which left room for reflection on both.

I have always been a big people person and love directly serving communities and the youth, which is exactly what I was able to do at Completely Kids. In the past I often struggled with indirect service, however, this trip flipped that switch off and clicked on a light that made me fall in love with this specific type of service. With YES my group and I did all indirect service, including painting their shelters, moving offices around, and helping sort the food pantries and clothes closet. Doing indirect work is sometimes difficult because I don’t always see the direct impact it is making on people’s lives, however, this trip allowed me to reflect deeply and truly see how something as simple as painting a wall can completely affect a person.

After this trip I had a revelation that I was called to a life of service, which makes sense as to why I want to teach middle schoolers who are considered at risk youth. Over the past year I have regrown my faith with Jesus and have made these connections with a life filled full of service for Him and for the greater good. I am continuing my journey with the AB program this fall as a site leader and I could not be more thrilled to be apart of such an amazing and soulful part of campus.

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