Pacific students spend alternative spring break in service to others
Laura Steed, director of religious and spiritual life, and eight students spent their alternative spring break making repairs and improvements to the Imperial Beach Neighborhood Center.
A team of Pacific students traveled to San Diego over spring break for a week of faith, fellowship and community service.
Led by Laura Steed, director of religious and spiritual life, eight students spent their alternative spring break making repairs and improvements to the Imperial Beach Neighborhood Center, which is part of the United Methodist Church’s outreach. Their trip came just before the Pacific restricted travel due to the threat of COVID-19
The group met with Pastor John Griffin-Atil, the center’s executive director, who explained the challenges the local community faces and described the work and vision of the center. For example, working with the San Diego Food Bank, the center distributes free food to low-income individuals and families once a month. The center keeps a food pantry and maintains a community garden. As part of the spring break project, Pacific students gathered fruit for the pantry.
“My favorite part of the experience was picking fruit,” said liberal studies major Brandon Jones ’21. “We went to two properties to pick fruit that would have gone to waste. We picked around 850 pounds in one day.”
Students also worked with the nonprofit group Streets of Hope to distribute food.
“I have volunteered in soup kitchens, sandwich packings and much more in the past. However, the thing that made this experience different was that we talked to the people we were helping,” said business administration major Shumesa Mohsin ’22. “We asked how they were and tried to make them feel like more than just people who are without a home, which is true. They are way more than that. They are people with stories and feelings, lives and values.”
The center also provides transitional housing for homeless families. The Pacific team spent two days priming and painting a room, which provided students the opportunity to learn new skills, such as using power tools.
In addition to community service, students also had the chance to explore the area around San Diego. The team participated in a scavenger hunt on the beach and a hike in Joshua Tree National Park. They also attended a church service at the U.S.-Mexico border with a Mexican group, each staying in their own country. Normally, the two groups meet in a place called Friendship Park, but spring flooding meant they had to hold their service via Facebook Live.
“From morning to night for those six days, there would be laughter coming from every corner. And I loved it!” Mohsin said. “It was a happy and fun week, and I’m grateful that I got the chance to experience it.”