The Florida Alternative Break program is designed to promote community engagement and encourage UF students to live a life of a community collaborator by exposing them to complex social and cultural issues through community partnerships, direct service, education, and reflection. The Community Collaborator approach is founded on the belief that an Alternative Break trip is a powerful catalyst for a transformed world view and developing an identity and understanding of lifelong engagement. Alternative breaks are about two things: getting needed work done around social issues and changing the volunteer's perspective of their place in society.
“This FAB experience humanized the experiences of refugees and made the statistics that we all hear much more realistic. The trip transformed what were originally just numbers that we know into children that endure unimaginable difficulties and still greet strangers with a smile on their face. It made me want to get more involved.”
Mary Kay Schneider and Kristy Chase began to plan the first UF Florida Alternative Breaks (FAB) trip in the fall of 1992 under the Gators Involved in Volunteer Endeavors (GIVE) student organization. A group of 21 alternative breakers took their first trip during the 1993 spring break to help reconstruct homes in Miami after Hurricane Andrew and then camped out on the Fiesta Key for two nights.
The following year FAB went on two trips, and then in 1995 the number of trips grew to three. One student wrote of their trip to Washington D.C. in 1995, “I think I found a greater sense of worth. This week gives me something to think about when I may feel that life is not worth the trouble. I have seen the real world, and I have it great."
Over the years FAB has grown tremendously. Today the organization has 4 Managers and 25 Site Leaders who coordinate trips for Veteran's Day weekend, winter break, MLK weekend, and spring break trips.
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