Voices of ASB #1: Journey of Leadership and Active Participation

Every week, members and partners of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) community will share their stories through Voices of ASB, a series of narratives inspired by the experiences, memories, and meanings made and shared through ASB. This week, we hear from Andrea Case, a senior majoring in Industrial Operations Engineering, and a Finance & Fundraising ASB Lead Team Member. 

At the end of my sophomore year, I applied for a position on the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Lead Team. After two impactful spring break trips, I wanted to challenge myself and help the organization that had given so much to me. To my surprise, I was accepted as part of the Finance and Fundraising Team (F&F).

My work on F&F included creating and maintaining the budget, as well as providing resources for site leaders for fundraising. In all the work that I did, my goal was to ensure that our program was sustainable and accessible to all UM students. Although my participation in the organization was meaningful in the overall big picture, it was easy to get disconnected from the organization by focusing on the logistics. One of the things I valued as a participant was the weekly educational aspects of ASB, where once a week I would get together with my site and learn about the social justice topic and engage in reflections. Instead, my weekly meetings consisted of planning and numbers.


In order to re-immerse myself in the ASB program I had fallen in love with, I decided last minute to apply for a general trip and was placed on a rural poverty trip. I spent spring break in Harlan, KY at Cranks Creek Survival Center.

Cranks Creek Survival Center is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to residents in Harlan County. “A helping hand, not a handout” is the mission of Cranks Creek Survival Center. Over the week, my group worked together to help build a homeless shelter in Bobby Simpson’s, the founder of the center, backyard. A majority of our group had never picked up a hammer before, but we learned. With each strike of the hammer, each piece of insulation that was installed, I could see progress. The small shelter in the backyard was slowly transforming.

The highlight of my trip was when our contact spent the day driving with us around the county to visit some of the projects the center had done in the past, in order to give us an idea of what we would be doing. It was heartwarming to hear the families talk so highly of the volunteers at Cranks Creek and to see the impact on each of these projects. It was in this moment that I realized why I continue to be involved in ASB. I value being part of a community of activists. I value being part of a community that strives to promote equity and empower individuals. As my time at Michigan comes to an end, I am thankful for my  involvement with Alternative Spring Break. It is hard to find the words to describe the experiences of my past three trips. Service learning involves the desire to learn and change just as much as it involves the desire to serve. Here’s to new friends, new perspectives, new communities, and a desire to continue my role towards being an active citizen and promoting social change.