Rather than traveling to a tropical location or just lounging around the house during Spring Break a group of 29 students from Tippecanoe High School (THS) devoted their time off to serving in community projects in Dayton. Led by senior Nicholas DeNuzzo the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) taught the students valuable lessons while benefiting society.
DeNuzzo formed the ASB last year after feeling a need to better serve the community. He’s always been passionate about community service and feels it’s his duty to give something back to the area. “I realize how cliché this may seem, but service is a way for me to channel my skills and youthful energy into something worthwhile. To me, I believe that service that alters people’s perception of the world, helps people grow as individuals, and unifies to community is the catalyst for positive meaningful change in our world,” said DeNuzzo.
For three days and two nights during their Spring Break the ASB helped at a number of locations in Dayton, including the VA Hospital Daycare Center, homeless shelters and after school programs. While only a short drive from their homes, the students were exposed to conditions very far from what they are accustomed to. DeNuzzo noticed a tendency in his peers to not concern themselves with the realities of the outside world.
“It’s strange to think that only driving twenty minutes away, you can find a community that needs so much help. And helping with these projects makes you feel so good about yourself while changing peoples’ lives,” said Quentin Faler, a junior who participated in ASB.
A goal for DeNuzzo in forming ASB was to raise awareness of the needs of people in the Dayton area. “I created Tipp City ASB from my desire to expose students to critical societal issues and analyze and understand the causes of those issues in order to help work towards lasting solutions. More importantly I wanted to inspire students in community service on their own in Tipp City,” he said.
The ASB Board which consisted of Nefeli Supinger, Carolyn Bailey, Alex Baker, Zach Vinski, and DeNuzzo along met monthly starting last summer until January when they gathered up to three times a month through March. They had to locate a place to house the nearly 30 students, organize transportation, set up 12 service opportunities, and educate themselves on the problems they would be facing.
To see the results of all the efforts was very rewarding to DeNuzzo who took great pleasure in seeing a mix of fellow students come together and not only work in dire conditions for three days but also become close friends in the process. “The most enjoyable aspect of ASB for me was forming close friendships with people who went on the trip. It is amazing that by the end of the three days I felt closer to some of the people on the trip then I did with some of my best friends,” said DeNuzzo.
A common thread through all the students who participated was thankfulness for having served and a desire to do more. “Giving up a few days of my break to help others was immensely rewarding and I would definitely do it again,” said junior Cheyenne Krieger.
DeNuzzo hopes to see continued growth in ASB for next year and from the total experience he’s learned that even the furthest dreams can be reached and turned into a reality. A simple thought that once existed in his head is now benefiting the community and making a difference in many lives. “ASB has inspired me to pursue all of my goals realizing there will be some setbacks, but as long as I work hard enough, nothing will stop me from achieving my dreams,” he said.