Dana Cronin

Staff Writer

During spring break, a group of ten philanthropic students took 25 hours to drive a route that was scheduled to take 18 hours. They were so excited about stopping at all the beautiful sights along the way, from the Grand Canyon to authentic Mexican food joints, that the journey stretched on through Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.


Upon their arrival in Santa Monica, California, the group worked for three days at a community shelter that provided food and other comforts to those less fortune. They made lunches, sorted through mail, organized a closet full of clothing, and made themselves available for conversation.


The trip was organized through BreakOut, a service-based group that operates under the umbrella of the ORC. The goal was to combine community service with ample time to explore Santa Monica. The trip was co-led by Blaise Yafcak, Regina Henares, and Lara Grevstad, and was a memorable and broadening experience for all participants.


Rayna Nolen, a first-year from Wheaton, IL, was amazed by the iconic spectacle of the Grand Canyon.


“Coming from a small town in Illinois, I wasn’t used to seeing such amazing natural land. It was also a perfect way to break up the long drive,” Nolen said.


They got to the Southern California city on Saturday afternoon and began to explore. “It felt great to finally arrive,” said Nolen. “The weather was warm and the feeling of spring break finally set in.”


“It was interesting to see that our image of the homeless was not necessarily accurate and many of the people we served didn’t actually appear to be ‘homeless,’” said freshman Cheryn Aoji.


“It was a very humbling experience,” added Nolen.


During their free time, the group enjoyed hiking up to the Hollywood sign, making their way from beach to beach, exploring the Santa Monica Pier, shopping, biking, and, of course, more hiking.


“My favorite part was the hike we took to the top of a waterfall. It was definitely an adventure!” said Nolen.


Students on the trip were very grateful for the experience.


“The alternative spring break trip to Santa Monica was perfect because not only were we a block away from the beach, but we were also able to positively impact the community by volunteering at a local community center. I’m glad that CC hosts trips like this for students!” said Aoji.


Sidharth Tripathi, another first-year on the trip, expressed similar gratitude.


“The trip really reminded me how much of a microcosm CC is to the real world. I feel fortunate that CC provides experiences for students to interact with people that are much different from us,” said Tripathi.


Look for more BreakOut trips with similar goals on future block breaks and spring breaks.


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