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Washington, DC: Spring Break '10
Twelve students from Eckerd spent their spring break 2010 tackling issues of HIV/AIDS and poverty in our nation’s capital. The trip involved service work with a variety of organizations which deal with the domestic HIV/AIDS crisis from a different angle. The variety of initiatives helped students learn about the complexity of the scope of this epidemic.
The first day of service learning trip students worked with Preventionworks. Preventionworks is a needle exchange program where we learned about the issue of drug addiction and the intersection of HIV/AIDS. At Preventionworks students spent the day making safe sex kits and first aid packets. Armed with these kits we were able to do outreach and hand out the safe sex kits to the community. This was definitely the most controversial day of the trip, which lead to a strengthening group discussion in the evening. Our group spent the mornings of the days to follow at Food and Friends. This organization provides food and meals for people living with HIV/AIDS and other life challenging illness. The work we did there included packing grocery bags, putting together weekly meals, delivering meals to DC and the surrounding area, stuffing thank you letters to important donors, along with creating signs for a fundraising walk. This organization is fueled by volunteers and was thankful for our assistance with all the background tasks that needed to be done. The afternoons on Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at Sasha Bruce Youth Network. This agency focuses on the urgent needs of homeless children and their families. We were able to help create a more peaceful living environment for the youth living in their independent living home by helping out with spring cleaning and gardening, overall enhancing the home-like feel. Students dug holes, pulled weeds, put in new flower beds, patted down mulch and more. We also got to spend time working with Camp City Year and played street ball with the children.
Everyone in the group worked hard during the day and also had the opportunity to enjoy the history and culture of Washington DC. Most of the people on the trip had never been to our nation's capital. The cherry blossoms were in bloom, reflecting in the pond, and we enjoyed walking from museum to museum. There was so much to see and do. Everyone found something of interest. In the evenings the group spent the night venturing out on the streets and looking at monuments in the national mall. Each individual in the group gained insight and awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in our own country. What we learned from our service work in DC will help us fight the stigma and ignorance surrounding people living with HIV/AIDS.