A different kind of spring break

While some students chose to spend their spring breaks relaxing on beaches in tropical locations or binge-watching a new Netflix series, others opted to use their time off to serve impoverished communities across the East coast. 

The mission of the Raising Educational Awareness through Compassion and Humanity organization, known to most students as REACH, is to provide students with fall and spring service trip opportunities in local areas and beyond.

According to the REACH home page on the Compass, the organization “strives to aid in development of individuals through education, exploration, service and reflection. It is [their] goal to create sustainable community ties through purposeful service.”

This past spring break, over 40 students went on four different trips facilitated by the REACH program. Each trip focused on a different aspect of service including hunger and homelessness, environment sustainability, rural construction and youth development. REACH service trips costs about $170, which covers transportation, food and housing for the entire week. Students do not need to be involved in REACH go on service trips, however if they would like to get involved with the organization, applications for executive board will go out to the CNU community next week. 

After participating in the REACH program for almost three years, junior and Public Relations Chair of the organization, Shawna Moghaddam is thankful for the opportunities that REACH offers. 

“Freshman year I wasn’t so sure about CNU and I wasn’t as involved on campus,” said Moghaddam. “The group of people that went on my trip freshman year impacted my life so much. It changed my outlook on service and CNU as a whole, and it made me want to continue to do those trips.”

With the help of sophomore Alexis Helmer, her co-trip leader, Moghaddam planned one of the four REACH trips this spring break, which took students to Greenville, S.C. to help reduce hunger and homelessness in the area. The planning process for each trip takes about a year. Helmer and Moghaddam split the work evenly, Moghaddam focusing mostly on the CNU administrative aspect and Helmer focusing on the service site aspect. 

On March 5, students climbed into a CNU van and drove seven hours to Greenville to begin their service experience. Over the course of the week, these students volunteered at a soup kitchen in the mornings and served at a local youth center in the afternoon. Because of this two site opportunity, this REACH group was able to cover more aspects of service. 

Because she had been to these locations on a previous REACH service trip, Moghaddam had a special experience because she got to see the change that had occurred while she was gone.

“At the soup kitchen, there were a lot of faces I remembered seeing last year, but there were also a lot of new faces, which was good because that meant people I had served last year found a job, found a home and didn’t have to come anymore,” said Moghaddam.

Likewise, Moghaddam worked with second grade students at Frazze Youth Center last year, some of whom were in the third grade class she assisted this year. Volunteering with these kids was the highlight of Moghaddam’s trip, and she was inspired by the strength each of them showed. 

“The challenges they face don’t stop them, and they have so many aspirations and goals they want to achieve,” said Moghaddam. “I want to take every opportunity that I am given for them.”