And Then There Was One

It’s come to the end of the trip, and with every last night comes a final blog with everyone’s summary of their experiences. Since we’ve been doing all our blogs together, we figured we’d collaborate for one final blog post.

Just to recap, we’ve done a lot over this trip! We completely repainted a group home under the direction of Anchorage Children’s Homes, and got to learn some behind the scenes knowledge of PCB’s residents who come in and out of their doors every day. We also assisted in shoreline restoration, planting, and reef-building in collaboration with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and some great Americorps volunteers. Each day was a new and exciting experience that really gave all of our members a sense of what they were individually serving for. At the end of the four days of service, we asked everyone for a quick wrapup of what they enjoyed about this trip, what they’ll take from it, or how they’re feeling on the last night. Those answers were as follows:

Emily – During my trip, I learned a lot through my experiences. On top of that, I got to know some pretty cool people and I’m glad I came.
Camilo – I think it was a very interesting volunteer experience and I was able to learn a lot about people here. Everyone is super friendly and cool!
Keegan H. – This was a very new experience for me. I’m glad I did it – it was awesome to bond with everyone and make new friends in more depth than what we got a glimpse of in the meetings before this trip.
Meredith – This was my third ASB trip and every year, I learn more and more about the people around me as well as myself. This year, I felt the focus was finding my strengths and helping others to recognize how they can contribute through their strengths to our work.
James – At the beginning of the year, I was faced with a big decision: do I join this org or not? Looking back, I’m definitely glad that I chose yes. It’s very rewarding to make friends and gain these experiences – something like ASB may only be available for some of us during college, and I now understand that it is always far more valuable to spend time with people that you care about.
Ashlyn – I really have always loved service, but I sometimes find myself so caught up in my day-to-day life that I forget about its importance. It is awesome to have something like this, to have some time set aside to just do some good in the world. A lot of personal growth that I’ve been working on has come full circle this week – confidence, attitude, etc. It has been cool to build relationships with everyone this week, as well as getting to know our own hearts and what makes us all us. Overall: this really has been a rewarding week!
Jess- I was hesitant to join ASB this year – I really thought that this would be too much for me with my busy schedule. But, I am really glad that I did it because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t! Every year, I learn something new – I learn about people, make new friends, etc. It’s such a rewarding experience! I think that it has shaped my college self and who I am today. ASB is who I am. It is a part of my family.
Makayla- The week was very rewarding, and I loved that we were able to see the impact. I also made a lot of new friends and I was able to expand my horizons/gain more experience in service.
Keegan D. – I feel like we got really close together as a group this year. Because of this, we were able to achieve a lot more through teamwork. We really pulled through and did a lot more work than we expected to coming in.
Ashlee – I’m proud of the fact that we got to give back to the world and restore natural habitats. It was just rocks, plants, and biodegradable parts. End quote.
Nicole – I like that we went in with open minds this year. We didn’t really know what to expect and were pretty positive about the situations nonetheless. This helped us to grow closer as a group.
Meg – We could have been doing anything else with our spring break, but it’s pretty great that we all chose to do this. We still got to goof around and have fun as friends, but we did that while giving back to both the community and environment in PCB. Every day was different, but all were fulfilling, and I’m glad I came.
Katie – This trip was a great way for me to meet new people and create new friends through service.
Genet – It wasn’t what I expected for sure, it was very different. The things we were doing (painting, moving rocks, etc.) seemed like minor or mundane tasks, but they actually made a big impact and meant a lot to the community and environment.
Delaney – I’ve had three experiences with ASB, and they’ve all turned out completely different. That’s what I love about our organization – you never really know what to expect. We dabble in a little bit of everything! I love our groups coming together in different ways and bonding over the silliest things – we’ll have these moments for the rest of our lives.
Whitney – Being that this is my last year, I came into this with a pretty heavy heart and knew that it would be bittersweet to write this. This group has shaped me in so many ways in the last three years that I couldn’t even begin to name them. Nothing has been more fulfilling than these experiences over the last few years, and it will be hard to find a family quite like ASB – I can’t say I regret a single thing about joining this group ~3 years ago, and I can’t wait to see where the future takes next year’s ASB pals.

“I’m proud of the heart that every single person in this team has. I love being surrounded by fellow Bearcats and serving the world with them.”– Ashlyn P.

The Joys of Painting (Bob Ross-Style)

For blogging this year, we’ve decided a new approach – as blogging has been an issue to coordinate in the past, we are now going to collaborate on posts each day and bring several points of view into one post. Everyone is still doing their part, but now you get to see everyone’s unique experiences all in one post!

Posting today is Group 1, and that’s Delaney, Ashlee, Keegan D., Nicole, Genet, and Meg. Annnnnnd go:

What were your highs and lows for the day?
Delaney: Low was definitely waking up and not feeling great – High was seeing the progress, finishing the project, and really falling into a rhythm with our teamwork.
Ashlee: Low was the painting fumes getting to my head and the high was accomplishing something big/finishing the full project.
Meg: Low was accidentally painting the middle of window. My high was jamming out to music and getting to dance and sing with my friends. Bonding experience was super fun.
Keegan: Low was early morning morale until noon-ish. My high was beach bonding with friends.
Nicole: Morale was low at the beginning of the day. High was when we all starting working together and bonded over finishing the project #teamwork
Genet: Low was being tired and my high was bonding.

What is something you struggled with today and how did you overcome it?
Delaney: I felt overwhelmed with the initial task at hand, but we divided and conquered so it went much faster than I expected.
Ashlee: We were all really tired this morning and we started listening to music to pump us up.
Meg: Today wasn’t really a struggle for me personally. I don’t think I have an answer for this question.
Keegan: Builidng up morale and personally contributing and thinking about the final project overall.
Nicole: We were tired, but staying positive and keeping the end project in mind/being mindful of the work.
Genet: When Joel was giving us all positive encouragement to keep us going – we really needed the motivation so it was nice to hear.

What is one new thing you did or learned today?
Delaney: I’m insecure about my height, but it came in handy today! Learning that my insecurities can actually be a benefit was really great when we needed to paint high places.
Ashlee: Learning how to stay positive in stressful situations.
Meg: I learned how to properly build a sandcastle!
Keegan: Working on keeping myself and others around me motivated.
Nicole: I learned that asking questions and when to ask for help is always better than doing it wrong.
Genet: I’ve learned how much teamwork we can accomplish and how it can make the projects be more efficient.

ASBasin Alliance: The Collab of the Century

For blogging this year, we’ve decided a new approach – as blogging has been an issue to coordinate in the past, we are now going to collaborate on posts each day and bring several points of view into one post. Everyone is still doing their part, but now you get to see everyone’s unique experiences all in one post!

Posting today is Group 3, and that’s James, Ashlyn, Makayla, Katie, and Jess. Annnnnnd go:

What were your highs and lows for the day?
James: I havent experienced being tired in the middle of the day yet but… *mimics slamming head on table*. Now I understand how it is being tired in the middle of the day but having to keep pushing. My high was learning all about oysters, fertilization, steralization, etc.
Ashlyn: High was defintly the nap I took! Just kidding, my high was the work we did today. I don’t go out of my comfort zone often and nature isn’t where I want to be all the time. During my experience today, I was out of my comfort zone and I was willing to jump in and get my hands dirty. My low would be how tired I was after all that work.
Makayla: My high is that our work today… we got to make it, basically, and then put it into use. It was cool to go and put it out into the water. We got to see why we did what we did. My low is that I am super tired and it was really hard to get out of bed.
Katie:  My high today was working with things that I was passionate about before I came into Florida. So, it was something that I knew I liked to do beforehand and it was really exciting! My low was getting sunburnt.
Jess: My high was that lovely little nature walk – I enjoyed learning about plants because it helps you connect what you are doing to the real world. My low would be that my shoes got wet, but it’s okay because I’m going to wash them. As an aside: I’m not naked and I’m not afraid.

What is something you struggled with today and how did you overcome it?
James: My struggle was the fact that I sliced my foot open on a plant. But at the ocean, I stuck my foot in and it turned out fine. So, I basically cured it.
Ashlyn: My biggest struggle was mid-day tiredness – after lunch, I could not function. But on the way to the site I rested, so I actually kept a positive attitude about it.
Makayla: When we first started to fill in the bags, the plants started to go diagnol. But we kept on trying and finally made a system that worked.
Katie: I struggled with my confidence in what I was doing today. I kept on trying to do things, but felt as though I was in the way (a lot). I overcame it by finding my confidence in what work I could do.
Jess:  I didn’t want the swarm of ants climbing on me. But I bucked up and said, “You know what? I’m going to cover these ants in some sand!” And I did! I overcame my struggle by saying that “ants dont matter.”

What is one new thing you did or learned today?
James: I learned a hell of a lot about oysters. I also learned that there are 300 species of bees native to Florida.
Ashlyn: For me, it was understanding the importance of restoration in places like that. To singlehandedly be taught the purpose and feel the purpose from the people was very cool.
Makayla: I learned a lot about plants! I am not a plant person, so it was interesting!
Katie: I learned that Panama City has natural resource/restoration projects within it – it’s all not just about spring-breaking and partying like it’s portrayed to be.
Jess: We all learned a lot about the plant life and the project, as well as the impact it was making. For this, it was nice to see the big picture of what our work influenced.
James: Going off of what you said: often times, we don’t realize how much work goes into a small thing such as a oyster reef or how it contributes to the world. That was something we got a glimpse of today.

Paint fumes & Gulf Coast – an interesting (smelly) combination

For blogging this year, we’ve decided a new approach – as blogging has been an issue to coordinate in the past, we are now going to collaborate on posts each day and bring several points of view together. Everyone is still doing their part, but now you get to see everyone’s unique experiences all in one post!

Posting today is Group 2, and that’s Meredith, Whitney, Camilo, Emily, and Keegan H. Annnnnnd go:

What were your highs and lows for the day?
Keegan: High was definitely going to the beach after all our hard work – the weather was nice and it was good to relax. Low was probably having to adjust my sleep schedule and get up at 6:45.
Camilo: My high was being on the beach and getting to relax after the day, but my low was that I woke up pretty cold – it was more chilly inside than I expected, but I got a blanket today so that should be way better tomorrow.
Emily: I really think my high was how efficiently we got our work done, and it was definitely rewarding to see the reaction of the people we were painting for. My low was probably the drive to Walmart after we left the work site – I was really exhausted and it just made the ride super long.
Meredith: My high was 100% talking to the director of the home we worked in and seeing what his role was/what social work he did. He also made it clear that we were making a big impact on their organization and that our work was important, however small it seemed. My low was how cold the ocean water was :(
Whitney: My high was also talking to the director of the home – he was super fun to get to know him and see how he impacts the PCB area. My low was probably struggling to find tasks to do as we winded down our work.

What is something you struggled with today and how did you overcome it?
Keegan: As I got tired throughout the day, my quality of work was decreasing and I was getting a little sloppy. Taking much-needed breaks every so often to sort myself out and restart helped a lot.
Camilo: I struggled with painting – I’ve never painted a home before and didn’t know how to do it, but by asking for help from more experienced members, I caught on quick!
Emily: I struggled with perfectionism – I was getting picky about the details and it took a bit of reflecting to realize that we’re not professionals and aren’t held to those standards – we’re volunteers who do what we can, and that doesn’t lessen the importance of what we do.
Meredith: Staying on task was difficult for me. I’m all over the place when it comes to work like this, and I realized I was just flying from one area to another without really committing and finishing out my work in the last before I jumped to the next. I guess I just wanted everything to be done so quick, but I had to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and staying on track would benefit us more in the long run.
Whitney: Something I struggled with was finding tasks to do at the end of the work day – as we cleaned brushes and got the most important areas done, I was beginning to stand around awkwardly and I felt like I wasn’t doing my part. I corrected this by starting to ask if there was any small detail work I needed to do with the remaining brushes & I communicated with the team to get things finished up while still doing my part.

What is one new thing you did or learned today?
Keegan: Learning about the house we worked for was most interesting to me – I liked seeing how they work with the kids and families to facilitate progress in each and every one of their lives.
Camilo: I learned how to paint today, which is a skill I didn’t have before and I’m glad I have now.
Emily: I saw the ocean for the first time today! That was my favorite part of the day.
Meredith: I learned that everything takes patience and every little job matters. Focusing on each task is important!
Whitney: Today, I got to see behind the scenes at the house we worked at and how it compared to the services back in Iowa/Missouri – seeing how they worked with the kids was very eye-opening.

First Day – Nicole Goellner

Attending ASB for the first time, I did not know what to expect. After hearing the stories of the people who have yet to live in their house since September, I was heart-broken and ready to help in any way possible. Showing up to our job site, I was speechless at the amount of damage that was done to the single house the group was assigned. Seeing this motivated me to work more diligently to complete as much of the task as possible. Tearing out plywood might not have been my specialty at the beginning of the day, but by the end, it was. The teamwork, hospitality of the volunteers, and new experiences made my first day of the trip successful. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store and the amount of lives the group will impact.

A Larger Than Life Experience – Ashlyn Peterson

I grew up in Madison, Missouri with a population of 556. My high school was Preschool-12th Grade with approximately two hundred students in attendance. As you can imagine, throughout high school I was very involved. I was a member and officer of every organization and program our school offered, while being a full time student. Coming into my freshman year here at Northwest I knew my courses weren’t going to allow me that same level of involvement so decision were going to have to be made. When I found Alternative Spring Break, I knew I had found my home. Service has been the largest building block in who I am today. From a young age with my involvement in both my local youth group and 4-H club I fell in love with the idea of being a servant to those in need. As first semester faded into second, my excitement to be serving others with likeminded college students was beyond borders.

On Monday as we sat at breakfast, a gentlemen by the name of Dave joined us. He introduced himself as a local and immediately began explaining the devastation of Hurricane Florence. Him and his wife were fortunate enough to escape major damage and had been housing families in their homes for the last six months. His role as a chaplain and position as a local made volunteering each week an easy decision. As of this month there are still 2,300 individuals displaced from their homes and he was fortunate enough to be the site manager for a sweet elderly woman’s home. She was living four hours away in Charlotte with her daughter and was coming back on the weekends to see the progress on her home. Although we hadn’t begun our work Dave began thanking us for spending our break helping his people. It was in these moments at our first breakfast that I truly understood the impact our gift of service was going to make.

As we received our assignment for the week, I was in shock as we had been assigned the sweet elderly woman’s house Dave had described at breakfast. Our task was to sheetrock the house so final steps could be taken to get the woman back to living at home. Those of you who know me, know I am by no means a handy woman. I was a bit uneasy about being equip with such a task but I was up for the challenge of learning something new. After tutorials from Dave, trial, and error each of us soon found where we best fit into the hanging of sheet rock puzzle. Each day presented new challenges, new solutions, new skills, and new memories with the most incredible people. By the end of our workday Thursday we had the entire house sheet rocked (minus one wall). We all came together as a team to work for the good of something so much greater than ourselves. Even though I won’t be trading college for construction anytime soon, I genuinely enjoyed adding another skill to my tool belt. I had the most laughs and experienced the most memorable moments around some of the best Bearcats I could know.

While we all come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and are studying a variety of subjects, we as a Bearcat family have one thing in common- our hearts. I could not have imagined spending my week of spring break doing anything else with any other group of people. This experience was eye-opening, impactful, and incredible. I will definitely be continuing my membership and would encourage every student at Northwest to consider the opportunity!

Last Day

To enter a house that is completely gutted and to leave it with walls and a ceiling is an insane feeling. I really do feel like I have left this trip with some great friends and memories made along the way. I was happy that through all the mistakes and silly things that kept happening over this week we have been able to dance and laugh it all off – whether those things be a confusing schedule, or a crooked house with straight edged sheetrock. It’s been a wonderful trip and I feel really honored to be able to hep out someone even if it is just putting up walls. The house is far from finished but we did as much as we could in the week we stayed.

-Faith Day


Started the day by trying grits for the first time, tasted like milky sand but the rest of the breakfast was good. Today we went to help put sheet rock up at the house we were assigned. It feels really awesome to see the progress of the house from being completely gutted to the start of having walls. I am excited to continue to work hard and see more progress. The beach afterward was really fun and the apple cobbler dessert was the bomb dot com.

-Faith Day

Day one:✔️

Today we finished our first day in Wilmington and I think the early plane ride yesterday is finally getting to us. We started the morning off eating breakfast with an adorable church community and then split up into groups to conquer more sights. The group that I was with got to go to a house and hang up sheet rock. It was definitely a learning experience and something I have never done before! I think everyone is excited to go back and work more tomorrow!

Take Me Home, Country Roads

NW ASB wasn’t alone in Wilmington. A second group from California was also staying with us, and they were a hoot and a half (dare I say they were two hoots). They worked on a different project site than us, however every night when they got back, we loved to visit with them, especially after a long day of work.

At the house, once my group had finished the ceiling, we started on the wall, which was 10 times easier since we didn’t have to hold the boards over our heads. By the end of the week, we had completed almost all the walls of the house. It was quite frustrating, but we all pushed through with positive attitudes and a lot of patience. In comparison to last year when we had a different project every day, but it was rather nice to have just one project to work on every day because we got to see just how much progress we had made by the end of the week. We made huge strides in the repair of this house, and I am proud to say that we were able to contribute to the rebuild of this woman’s house. Even after all the work, it was nice to have one day off.

Spending Friday at the beach was about as amazing as it sounds. The weather was above 70 degrees and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk was a beautiful space. Lunch at SeaWitch cafe was delicious and we spent several hours playing in the ocean, drawing in the sand, and burying Alex. Despite how relaxing the whole day was, in the end I was glad to be back home in my own bed.

ASB has been an amazing experience to me. I am so blessed to serve as president of this organization and I hope that I will get to have this opportunity again in the future. Originally I wasn’t sure if my senior year would have enough time in it to do ASB again, but honestly I don’t think I can leave. ASB has become my third family (after marching band) and it’s not something I’m ready to lose.

Get ready for Round 3 of me ASB, because I’m not going anywhere.