The Columns

A Working Spring Break for W&L Students

— by on May 7th, 2012

Three organizations in Shreveport, La., reaped the benefit of a choice that students from Washington and Lee University made in April: to spend their spring break not on vacation but doing community service in that city.

W&L’s Shepherd Poverty Program coordinated the Alternative Spring Break. The students spent the first two days painting a grocery store for the Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana, a volunteer program that constructs homes as a response to the housing crisis created by an influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees to the area.

Then it was on to Dress for Success. The organization promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a support network and career-development tools.

“We moved all these clothes from their basement to upstairs so they could set up a more client-friendly boutique,” said Zineb Benchekroun, a sophomore accounting and business administration major from Morocco, who experienced Alternative Spring Break for the first time. “It was a lot of work and very tiring.”

They spent their last two days at The Providence House, which helps homeless families move into permanent, independent housing.  Students organized the warehouse, folded sheets, served meals and played with the children at the program.

Benchekroun said she was particularly impressed with their W&L alumni hosts, Witt Caruthers, of the Class of 1983, and other members of the Northern Louisiana Chapter. “I think W&L alums are awesome, and it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them. They coordinated everything and were very nice and hospitable. There was nothing we needed that they didn’t provide us with. We even had a crawfish party at their home,” she said.