ABIG looking forward to spring break trip to Appalachian Mountains
JCC’s Alternative Breaks Interest Group will travel from Jackson to the Appalachian Mountains in East Tennessee during spring break to serve the people and communities there.
ABIG will work with Once Upon a Time in Appalachia, whose mission focuses on the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, the environment and rural Appalachia. Once Upon a Time in Appalachia sits on 40 acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, about 30 minutes southeast of Maryville, Tenn. The organization cooperates with several area agencies and communities: the Snowbird Cherokee community in Robbinsville, N.C., Cherokee National Forest, Sequoyah Museum, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
ABIG is a group of students interested in service-learning opportunities who spend their spring break the last week of February completing a humanitarian “service” project out of state, rather than taking the week off. Misty Emerson is in her second semester at JCC and is excited about her first trip with ABIG.
“Both my father and sister did ABIG, and it sounded like something I would like to do as well,” Emerson said. “I’ve been volunteering around the community for the year in places like the Dahlem Center. I have learned how important it is to work together and how much of an impact you can have on someone’s life just by doing one little thing without asking for anything in return. It’s a great feeling.”
A unique aspect of this year’s program is that they offer a variety of service projects during the week. A typical week involves two days in the Snowbird Cherokee community, one day in either Cherokee National Forest or Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and one day homesteading at Once Upon a Time or volunteering at Sequoyah Museum. Projects may include:
- volunteering at the Snowbird Senior Citizen Center, Health Clinic and Child Development Center;
- doing home projects for snowbird seniors such as painting, minor repair and yard work;
- working on special projects such as planting apple trees as food plots for wildlife, trail repair, building boardwalks, maintaining Indian cemeteries within the Nantahala National Forest;
Students have completed local service projects so far in the fall semester, such as helping with the Goblin Walks at Dahlem Center in October, volunteering at Michigan Theatre and the AWARE Shelter.
“Students should get involved in ABIG because it’s a life-changing experience,” Emerson said. “It makes you feel better about yourself by helping others and seeing how life changing it is for the people you’re helping. If one student does it that will inspire many others, also.”