Students, new organization prepare for trips to Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago

There is a new organization that gets students involved in social problems.

BG Alternative Breaks, a relatively new organization on campus, organizes trips designed to get students out of their element and helping people in need.

Maddi Georgoff, president of the group, started the organization in Spring 2013.

“We started the BG Alternative Breaks program as way to provide students with service opportunities outside of Bowling Green. We wanted to get students involved with social justice issues and promote active citizenship,” Georgoff said.

BG Alternative Breaks is in preparation for three trips this fall break, a trip to Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago.

Amanda Dortch, a sophomore journalism major, will help lead the upcoming trip to Detroit. The trip will focus on working with “Blight Busters,” a group based in Detroit that renovates dilapidated buildings and turns them into homes for the community. They will also work with the “Cass Social Services,” also a Detroit-based group which works to fight homelessness and promote environmental issues.

Dortch has experience with Alternative Breaks, but this is her first time leading a trip.

“I feel like it’s my duty in my heart,” Dortch said. “I’m from Detroit, so I feel like I’m helping out my home and then bringing back what I’ve learned and using it to help my other home, Bowling Green.”

As a site leader, Dortch will be responsible for organizing the pre-trip meetings, which form a part of the learning aspect of the trips. They are also responsible for organizing and contacting the service organization and making arrangements for the other participants on the trip. Other than that, the site-leaders participate in the service just like anyone else.

“The people make the trip,” said Dortch. “No one in [the organization] didn’t want to be there. You are doing it because you want to, not because you forced to.”

Trevor Engle, a junior psychology major, is a veteran of two trips with the Alternative Breaks organization including the Detroit trip.

“I had a terrific time. The trips gave me a lot of good experiences with the community,” Engle said, “We all started the trip as strangers, but through the reflections that happen every night, we all opened up and after 2 days we were all best friends.”

Engle also said that the trip changed the way he views the world.

“Before the trip I always thought Detroit was a desolate place, but afterwards I realized what a beautiful area it was and all the great people that were in the community,” he said.

Alex Carroll will be a site-leader for the Chicago trip. The Chicago trip will focus on the Youth Lounge, a group which works with homeless and LGBTQ+ youth in order to provide them hot meals, clothing and a safe place to stay.

Carroll is also a returning member to the group. She took her first trip to Murphy, North Carolina, helping the Hiwassee Watershed Coalition keep the water from becoming polluted.

“I still feel like I have to pick up trash everywhere I go now,” Carroll said.

The last trip planned for this fall is a trip to Cincinnati to help develop community in the Over-the-Rhine. The participants on the trip will be working with the St. Vincent De Paul organization, helping fight against homelessness and poverty in the area.

“If you want to get involved, you can send an application to the Office of Service Learning” Anna Voinovich, the vice president of Outreach for BG Alternative Breaks, said, “Unfortunately, the applications for Fall are already closed, but you can sign up for Spring.”

The Alternative Breaks program plans to expand their trips even more next semester. “We’re hoping to have five trips for spring break,” Georgoff said. “We don’t know exactly where we’re going yet though. We’re currently sticking inside the United States, but who knows, maybe next year we’ll go international.”