What better way to spend a blizzard-filled weekend than in the heart of Boston? On Friday, Feb. 10, eight Keene State College students, including myself, left Keene to engage in community service opportunities in the big city through the Alternative Break (AB) program.
Our team of eight came from a variety of different grades and majors, and you never would have known that many of us had never met before we embarked on our road trip. Prior to leaving, the team, which consisted of two first-years, three sophomores, two juniors and one senior, was chosen in an application-based process. Amy Richo and I, the team leaders, chose the team based on a series of questions related to community service and social justice.
The eight of us arrived at a hostel in Boston around 7:30 p.m. and were welcomed by people staying there from all over the world. Right when we got there, we attended the Hostel Welcome Party, which consisted of food, drinks and various activities. For most of the night, we created and decorated cards which would be put in children’s backpacks, motivating them to do well in school.
As Saturday approached, we got started on our service activities. We spent most of the morning making dog toys out of old t-shirts, as well as dog treats for those at the Boston Animal Rescue. Later on that day, we were able to bring our donation items to the animal shelter and even bond with some dogs and cats. Although many of us thought about taking them back to Keene with us, we said our goodbyes and hoped our toys and treats made their day even the slightest bit better.
After lunch, we traveled to the Yawkey Family Inn, which is a home for the patients and families of Boston Children’s Hospital. We made Valentine’s Day cards with children over the course of a few hours, but there was one child who touched all of our hearts in a special way. One five-year-old boy was staying at the house all the way from Texas and had the most contagious and upbeat personality. He made a variety of Valentine’s Day cards with us, while also teaching us about all 45 presidents of the United States. Although many of us were embarrassed to admit it, he knew more about the presidents than we did. Despite his medical conditions, he was so positive, happy and most definitely could have talked our ears off for hours.
On Sunday, we traveled to another house affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital called the Devon Nicole House. This home also houses families and patients at the hospital, but was set up a little differently than the other house we went to the day before. We got there around 8:30 a.m. and spent an hour making eggs, bacon, three types of muffins (chocolate chip, banana nut and blueberry) and fruit salad for the families staying there. Although we didn’t see and interact with as many families at this house, we were told that leaving the breakfast for families to help themselves to later on in the day is more appreciated than we may realize. Additionally, we left child-friendly and adult coloring pages for all to use as well.
Overall, the trip was a short, but it was an amazing experience. Eight strangers have now become such good friends, and I think almost all of us have AB fever, motivating us to want to participate in even more AB trips in the future. The families, children and animals we met touched our hearts in many different ways, and the bonds we made as a team are like no other. I wish the weekend could have been longer so we had even more time to build relationships and participate in more service opportunities in and around the Boston area.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org