Tarleton’s Alternative Spring Break answers the call to Panama City, Florida


Photos courtesy of ASB

Students who traveled with ASB stand together with one of the homeowners they helped restore their home after Hurricane Harvey.

While it may be the start of the Spring Semester, several members of the Tarleton State University student body, faculty and staff have begun to make plans for spring break. Tarleton’s Leadership and Service is no exception, as they have now opened registration for students to sign up for the 2019 Alternative Spring Break trip to Panama City, Florida. The purpose of this trip will be to allow students to volunteer for Hurricane Michael relief efforts going on in Panama City.

According to Erin Warner the Community Service and Food Pantry coordinator, Alternative Spring Break Coordinator, the trip will commence on March 9, following the Friday before spring break, and will end on March 14, the Thursday of Spring Break. Warner adds that the motivation and work involved in this trip is no different in comparison to last year’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Liberty, Texas for Hurricane Harvey relief, but does emphasize that, “Hurricane Michael almost leveled Panama City Beach.”

This comment rings true, as a preliminary report from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration described Hurricane Michael when it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle region on Oct 10, 2018 as “an unprecedented high-end Category 4 Hurricane…with maximum sustained wind speed of 155 mph and a minimum pressure 919 mb.” The report also mentions a majority of the catastrophic damage due to wind and storm surge occurring in the Panama City beach area. As a result of this catastrophic damage, 60 percent of the houses in Panama City have been destroyed, per a release from the Miami Herald. The release also highlights the two hospitals in the region that continue to be closed as well as how a large crowd of people are currently making a tent-filled church parking lot their new home.

Even after the Hurricane three months later, Panama City is still in need of relief. Warner hopes to take a group of students to Panama City as to not only convey the Core Value of Service and lend a hand to those who need it but to allow the students an opportunity to grow from the trip.

“[The Alternative Spring Break trip] is about Service…but really its about that transformative experience for students and have something that they can get involved in,” said Warner. “[It’s an opportunity] to meet other students and create a partnership with them. [It’s an opportunity to] serve and learn what service looks like on a bigger scale.”

Warner explained that the trip also serves as a way for students to understand how natural disasters and the relief that comes after can make an impact on the lives of many. 

Photos courtesy of ASB
Students who went on the 2018 Alternative Spring Break trip stand together infront of a house they worked on during their week of service.

“The night before the trip I was anxious and not for sure what I was getting myself into,” said Tarleton student Keaton Evans, who recalls his Alternative Spring Break trip to Liberty, Texas for Hurricane Harvey relief. “However, once we arrived at the church, we all started bonding and settling into our home for the week.”

Evans explained that during that time, he felt that everyone in the group had created their little community together and had grown closer than before. 

Evans also explained how during their time in Liberty, he had the opportunity to meet victims of Harvey.

“Personally, my favorite moment of ASB was meeting Cliff and Harold,” Evans said. “Even though the disaster impacted their houses they were grateful for the help and took time out of their day to get to know us better. Cliff even partook in our morning dancing on the final day.”

“I would recommend ASB to others,” Evans said as he thought of his own ASB experience. “ASB was an excellent opportunity to meet new people, make memories and help others. Because of ASB, I was able to meet people that have become some of my best friends. [I am] so incredibly thankful for my opportunity to attend ASB.”

Students who are interested in signing up for Alternative Spring Break can go to the Leadership and Service office in room 201 of the Thompson Student Center.