Dallas A.S.B. — Day 7

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By Laura Pappas

Traveling day has come upon us once again! After a late night of packing and cleaning, all 28 of us were up and ready to leave C2K at 6:00 a.m. Even though we were in close quarters at time, it was hard to leave our new home. C2K played a large part in bringing our group closer. Many memories were created there, whether we were playing friendly games on the basketball court, card games in the common area, or just relaxing in bunks. Additionally, we never went hungry. Jill was such an amazing cook, she even baked muffins for our early morning!

Now that our Alternative Spring Break has come to an end, I think it’s time to give credit where it’s due.

To the advisors: Sarah, Ashley, Fred, and Adam- we can not thank you enough for everything you have done this past week. Navigating through a new city with a van full of college students is no easy task, and you all did it with a smile everyday for the past week. Thank you so much for your flexibility, patience, and bubbly personalities. This trip could not have been as great without you.

To Paul and Amanda, this trip would not have happened without you, it’s as simple as that. You two are some of the nicest and self-less people I have had the pleasure to work with. All the hard work and planning you guys put into this trip really showed. Everything was wonderful, and we could not have asked for better people to lead us this week. Thank you!

As for the rest of the group, thank you for your unwavering service this past week. E-board could not have asked for a better group of people for this journey. You are all amazingly unique people, and it was a pleasure to get to know you.

Finally, to all our supporters, I hope you have enjoyed being on this adventure. You gave us the chance to help others, learn about ourselves, and make memories in the process. We are forever grateful, and hope you are as excited for ASB 2016 as we are!

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 6

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By Laura Pappas

We knew this day would come, but we didn’t  expected it to be this soon: It’s our last day in Dallas. We had our final work day at Cockrell Hill Methodist Church, and focused our attention on the youth center. Together we finished painting, cleaning, and scrubbing carpets in the interior. Then on the outside, we continued to paint the trim around the windows, and applied a base coat to the side and back of the house. The plan is for another group to come and finish where we left off.

Toward the end of the work day, overwhelming feelings could be felt within the group. We were slightly tired after a long day of work, excited about getting back to C2K to begin our evening activities, and proud of all the work we were able to accomplish over these last few days. It was so amazing to walk through the youth center and witness the transformation that had taken place or sit inside the sanctuary, which now appears to sparkle after new lights and paint!

Above all else, we felt grateful. We are thankful for Pablo and Joe and the wisdom they passed along these past couple days, the supply runs they made to Home Depot, the helping hands they lent when we needed them, and for allowing us to come down and work with them. They are truly amazing people, and we only hope to one day see them both again! We are also grateful for the congregation of Cockrell Hill. Including the wonderful women who made us homemade Mexican food everyday for lunch, and all the members we got a chance to meet. They were so appreciative of everything we had done, and would always find a way to show it, even with just a smile. We’re also thankful for the DJ who brought tunes to our Fiesta today and gave us the chance to laugh and dance with our new friends from the church! We are so humbled for the chance to help you all out, and wish you the best with everything!

After our work day, we went for one last dinner and dessert as a group, before coming back to C2K to clean and pack. Tomorrow will be bittersweet as we make the long journey back to Erie. The best way I can think of to end our Last Work Day post is with the quote of the week.

“Work like you don’t need the money, Love like you have never been hurt, Dance like no one is watching!”

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 5

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By Laura Pappas

The sun was out and shining today! As we embraced the warmth of Dallas, we continued our work at Cockrell Hill United Methodist Church. One group worked on fixing some electrical components to make sure the inside of the sanctuary is as bright as the outdoors. Another group worked hard inside the youth center and managed to paint four rooms today!

A couple of groups did get to work on their tans. One painted some fresh lines in the parking lot. The last group scrapped and painted the windows of the youth center. We also had a couple of special surprises today. We were welcomed with breakfest tacos and Pablo’s son, Jack, hung out with us and even helped paint some walls! Some other members stopped by to see our progress. It’s so great to see how pleased they are with our progress, and hard to believe tomorrow is our last day of work!

After work, we reflected on people we’ve gotten close too, challenges we faced, and how we’ve felt on the trip thus far. We did this by two methods, self reflection inside the church and large-group reflection atop the roof!

For our adventures this evening, we split up into two groups. Half of us tried out our dancing feet and learned to line dance! The other half challenged each other at Urban Air- an indoor trampoline gymnasium, with dodgeball. Both groups then headed downtown to explore Dallas, and ate some local sweet  treats!

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 4

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By Laura Pappas

We were back at it today! Although the weather was somewhat better, we still spent the day finishing up our indoor projects. The groups in the sanctuary painted another coat on the back wall and continued to replace lights to make the already beautiful worship place even prettier. The beautification project extended into the hallways where another group cleaned all the walls and light fixtures.

However, throughout the day, the renovation projects seemed to shift focus to the youth group center. Groups there cleaned, prepped, and painted four rooms, complete with an accent walls! They also prepped the outside for painting tomorrow. Our final group had one of the toughest tasks yet: the garage. And they conquered it by decluttering and reorganizing the space, so there is now a small work area for any future projects the youth group may have.

For lunch today, we joined the seniors of the church in a Fiesta! Together we jammed to music and ate Fiesta Bowls. We loved the opportunity to talk with them and look forward to Thursday when they join us again.

After a hard day of work, we treated ourselves to Sonic, and returned to C2K just in time for slow-cooked chicken for dinner! We also took time to reflect on our growth as a group, service to the community, and ways to break out of our comfort zone to make the trip even more meaningful.

Finally, we took a couple hours to explore Dallas! This included the Truck Yard, a local attraction which features a country- backyard feel, but has some of the most delicious food served from food trucks. Then we stopped at some other local stores on our way to one of the best views of Dallas for some Kodak moments!

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 3

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By Laura Pappas

Not even the rain could stop ASB on our first work day! We got up at 7:30 a.m. and were treated to a traditional Spanish breakfast provided by C2K. We then left to go meet Pastor Pablo and Pastor Joe of Cockrell Hill Methodist Church, who knew that the way to our hearts was through our stomachs. So to start our work day, we indulged in coffee and pan dulce’!

It wasn’t long until the church was flooding with activity! One group did an outstanding job cleaning and organizing the reading nook choir room. Another group built scaffolding to replace light bulbs in the front of the sanctuary. The new lights coupled with a fresh coat of white paint provided by our third group, really brightened up the place! And finally, our fourth group was working on cleaning a building adjacent to the church which they plan to use as a youth group center.

Our work today was rewarding, fun, and brought us closer as a group. However, it was the people we met who really made the day special. Pablo is always quick to share a funny and inspiring story. Joe isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty and would often jump in and help out. Other members of the church also stopped by to meet us, including a few wonderful women who drove an hour to make us lunch and deliver desserts!

After returning to the C2K housing, we were treated to some home-cooked lasagna and garlic bread for dinner. Then we reflected on the highs of the day and made a ‘web’ of connections to bring our group closer. And if the day was crazy enough, we ended it with a volleyball tournament between the vans. Things got pretty competitive, but it was all in good fun, and the winning van was “Betty White,” led by advisor Sarah and President Paul!

It has been a terrific Monday, and we look forward to sunny skies and more work days ahead!

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 2

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By Laura Pappas

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” — President John Kennedy

Today, our group got to learn about the life, presidency, and legacy of this great man. We spent our morning at the Sixth Floor Museum, which is located in the former Texas Book Depository: the site of Lee Harvey Oswald’ s sniper nest. As a group chosen based on their dedication to service, it was inspirational to hear the words of someone who spent his presidency doing the same.

After the tour, we broke off in our vans for a quick lunch before getting thrown back into old-country times. The Stock Yard features cowboys, longhorns, mechanical bulls, and cattledrives. Then we topped the day off with dinner and some line dancing at Billy Bob’s BBQ! It was such an awesome day, soaking up the culture of the south!

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Dallas A.S.B. — Day 1

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By Laura Pappas

After seven hours and nearly 1,300 miles, our crew finally made it to Dallas. Although the journey may have been long, it was fun, safe, and most importantly, we landed in sunny 60-degree weather.

After claiming bunks and getting situated in our living quarters, we toured the C2K campus. Our main building includes the bunk rooms, a common area big enough to fit all of twenty-eight of us, and a kitchen where the amazing Jill cooked us a home-cooked dinner. Their church right across the street has one of the largest organs in Texas, a youth room, a full sized basketball court, and a beautiful roof top view of Dallas! Everyone has been so welcoming, and C2K already feels like home!

As a way to kickoff the week and get to know the group better, we made inspirational origami fortune cookies! At the start of each work day, we will all pick out an origami cookie and see what inspirational quotes our fellow group members wrote for us.

Tomorrow, we will have our cultural day! On our agenda is a tour of the JFK museum and an evening at the stock yard. Look out for a recap tomorrow; until then, goodnight!

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Reality Check heads to Dallas for A.S.B. 2015

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By Laura Pappas

Today, twenty-four students and four advisors will embark on Alternative Spring Break 2015. This year’s adventure will take us to the heart of Texas: Dallas.

While in Dallas, we will be working with C2K. Since its beginnings in 2002, C2K has served as an inner city retreat and mission center, providing help to those in need. One of their main goals is matching the volunteers with the activities, so they offer a variety of ways to help the community.

During our work days, we look forward to improving the facilities at Cockrell Hill Methodist Church, which has been a predominant part of the community since 1913. With free time, we hope to explore the city, soak in some sun shine, and take in some southern culture!

We couldn’t be more excited for our adventure to Dallas. Please check back and follow us on our journey.

New Orleans A.S.B. — Day 7

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By Lauren Smith and Marissa Morrissette
President and Vice President of Reality Check, respectively

After waking up after a late night, this morning consisted of packing and cleaning up the apartments for the next group to come. We loaded the vans and began to head toward the airport. Before our final stop to the airport, we stopped for one last breakfast together at iHop. We reflected on all that we had accomplished together and all the great memories made. It was a great final breakfast that had to come to an end. We all got checked in at the airport and caught our flying bird to return back to Cleveland. It didn’t end there for us. We had a two-hour drive back to Erie, which most of us spent getting in a nap after a long week with little sleep. We safely got back to Erie and went our separate ways on campus. It definitely was sad to leave each other, but we were happy to have no issues returning and that everyone was safe and sound. We will see each other shortly at our final reflection, which will be held on campus.

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We really appreciate all of the love and support that we’ve received on our adventures. We apologize for not keeping up with the blog day-by-day, but hope you understand how busy these trips can be! This trip could not have happened without all of the generous donations given by our donors, United Saints, our wonderful advisers (Maya, Ian, Courtney, and Sarah), the executive board of Reality, and of course, the amazing students that volunteered their spring break to do service work. We had an amazing experience and will always remember the people of New Orleans and the damage Hurricane Katrina did on the city. Thanks to everyone again and stay tuned for next year’s trip!

~ Lauren and Marissa

Pres and VP

New Orleans A.S.B. — Day 6

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By Lauren Smith and Marissa Morrissette
President and Vice President of Reality Check, respectively

We all woke up this morning bright eyed and ready to get work done. Today we felt an even greater bond. There was something very special about the group that went this year. Most of the people were brand new to this experience. It was like putting 24 strangers together and having them get to know each other from scratch. It was so great watching everyone progress together as a group. Before we went off to our work sites, the head of United Saints, Daryl, gave us some great final words to end the week with about how volunteering is important and how we can make a difference. It was very rewarding and humbling to know that by doing the little tasks we do, we still make a big difference. Today Ian’s and Sarah’s group went to Pop’s house to finish up the last bit of work needed there and Courtney’s and Maya’s group went to Mr. Steven’s and Mr. Morris’ house.

Mr. Steven and Mr. Morris brought doughnuts in the morning, and we got to work on siding on the house. Some people teared down the old siding, others hung up new ones and some people painting the newly hung siding a pretty light shade of yellow. It was a big assembly line that we had going the whole day. To our surprise, Mr. Morris grilled for us at lunch. He had hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, baked beans and potato salad. During lunch, the group heard stories of Mr. Steven and Morris and their families about how their experience was with Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Steven brought out albums of pictures and they got to look through them and see how much damage and pain that Katrina brought to the city. At Pop’s house, it was a race for us to finish up the house. What a great last day it was that we were actually able to accomplish our goal and finished up all of the house work that needed to be done for the site. We had a lot of team work going on with some doing cocking, finishing siding, painting the siding and finishing painting on the front porch. We had a bright sunny day for last work day in New Orleans and had a lot of fun accomplishing our goal.

While everyone raced to get showered, we had a special night planned. First was a reflection that was led by Mark. This reflection is such a great take away for everyone on the trip. What Mark explained to everyone is basically that we would be making a brown bag of love to keep. Each person has a brown bag that is theirs. Everyone on the trip writes a small note to each other explaining what they learned about that person or something positive they want to share with that person. It is such a great pick-me-up on a rough day back at school. After reflection finished, we headed to our dinner spot for the night, Poppy’s Crazy Lobster. The restaurant is well known for their seafood and was featured on the Food Network. There were no complaints and no full plates left once we finished our meals. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of love filling the restaurant. Later that night, some people went to Café du Monde again, others went souvenir shopping in the French Quarter and some other people hit up Bourbon Street. It was a last night to remember for many years to come!

~ Lauren and Marissa

Pres and VP

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